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The Hilltop


Howard University’s Excellent Scholars Over 150 Years

By: Imara Bright-Johnson
Posted 8:00 PM EST, Fri., Mar. 3, 2017

Howard University, aka ‘The Mecca’, is one of the best historically Black colleges in the country. Over the years, Howard has produced many well known scholars, artists, writers, and political activists—all of whom have made a significant impact on society. For 150 years, Howard has continued to offer a space for individuals to thrive and accomplish their ambitions. Here are some of the notable Howard scholars from the past 150 years:

  1. Thurgood Marshall

    Thurgood Marshall; courtesy photo

    Although he was not an undergraduate student at Howard University, Thurgood Marshall received his law degree from Howard University Law School in 1933. Marshall went on to establish his own practice as a civil rights lawyer. He also held other positions such as counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1967, Marshall was sworn in as the first African-American to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.


  2. Zora Neale Hurston

    Zora Neale Hurston; courtesy photo

    Known as one of the most preeminent writers of African-American literature, Zora Neale Hurston received her degree from Howard University in 1924. Hurston published many novels and short stories during her life, but is most known for works such as “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and “Seraph on the Suwanee”. Hurston paved the way for many young writers, especially African-American authors.


  3. Debbie Allen

    Debbie Allen; courtesy photo

    Debbie Allen found the spotlight when she starred in the 1980 Broadway revival of West Side Story. Most known for her infamous choreography, Debbie Allen has made strides as a dancer, actress and television director/producer. Allen graduated from Howard University’s drama department in 1971. Allen has since then been awarded numerous Emmy and Tony Awards for her work. Currently, she is known for her Debbie Allen Dance Academy that offers dance to children in Los Angeles.


  4. Stokely Carmichael

    Stokely Carmichael; courtesy photo

    As one of the most influential civil rights activists of his time, Stokely Carmichael was best known for leading the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. After his graduation with honors in 1961, Carmichael began his work with the SNCC. He was able to raise the number of registered Black voters from 70 to 2,6000 and coined the phrase “Black Power”.


  5. Kelly Miller

    Kelly Miller; courtesy photo

    As the first Black man to attend Johns Hopkins University for postgraduate studies, Kelly Miller also attended Howard University to study mathematics. After graduation, he worked in the US Pension Office. With two degrees, he decided to earn his law degree and became dean of Howard’s College of Arts and Sciences.

  6. Jeremiah Wright

    Dr. Jeremiah Wright; courtesy

    Reverend Wright became pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in 1972. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama were married at his church and baptized their two daughters there. Reverend Wright has written four books and was named one of the country’s top Black preachers in 1993.


  7. Toni Morrison

    Toni Morrison; courtesy Photo

    Nobel prize and Pulitzer Prize novelist, Toni Morrison, graduated from Howard University with a degree in English. She is widely known for her famous novels The Bluest Eye, Beloved and d Song of Solomon. Morrison has also written children’s literature and was chosen as the Oprah Book club pick in 2000. In addition to these awards, Morrison received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.


  8. Roberta Flack

    Roberta Flack; courtesy photo

    Known as one of the best singers of all time, Roberta Flack attended Howard University at the age of 15 years old. She is a Grammy Award winner and strongly influenced pop, soul and jazz music. In addition to music, Flack also founded the Roberta Flack School of Music in the Bronx for underprivileged children to receive music education at no cost.


  9. Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates; courtesy photo

    Ta-Nehisi Coates is prominent an African-American journalist, blogger and memoirist. Coates attended Howard University, as well as Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is widely known for his impact and discussions surrounded racism in the United States. He is currently a national correspondent for The Atlantic.


  10. Amiri Baraka

    Amiri Baraka; courtesy photo

    Amiri Baraka is a poet, writer, teacher and political activist. Many know him through his work during the Black Civil Rights Movement. Numerous works of his, specifically poems were used in retaliation to the on going racism in America. Baraka has been a writer for fifty years and has been extremely influential in the African-American community.


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