Howard University Played an Important Part in American History and The Civil Rights Movement- Other Interesting Facts

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howard university

By Yolanda Spivey

When you think of any famous historically Black college or university, Howard University usually comes to mind.  Founded in 1867 by General Oliver Otis Howard, a Caucasian Civil War Hero, the University was established as a theological seminary to provide education for African-American clergymen.  Nestled on 256 acres in Washington, DC, Howard University has several historical landmarks on its campus.  In addition to 13 schools, Howard University has 10 dorms, a hospital, and a television and radio station. Here are some other interesting facts about this famous HBCU:

Howard University Students are Smart– Howard undergraduates have a mean composite SAT score of 1,082.  And between 1998 and 2009, Howard University produced a Marshall Scholar, two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, twenty-two Fulbright Scholars and 10 Pickering Fellows.

Howard University was Instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement & American History– In 1942, Howard University Students were instrumental in pioneering the “stool-sitting” technique which played an important role in the civil rights movement.  In 1943, students organized sit-ins and pickets at cigar stores and cafeterias around the Washington, DC area, protesting establishments that refused to serve them because of their race. Stokely Carmichael, who coined the term “Black Power,” was a student in Howards’s Philosophy Department.  Alain Locke, who was instrumental in ushering in the Harlem Renaissance was Chair of the Department of Philosophy.  And Ralph Bunche who was the first African American Nobel Peace Prize winner served as chair of the Department of Political Science.

Howard University is home to The Hilltop– In 1924, famous author Zora Neale Hurston founded The Hilltop, the nation’s only HBCU daily newspaper. Today, the publication of The Hilltop helps students learn firsthand on what it takes to work in the newspaper industry. Howard University is also the publisher of The Journal of Negro Education, Capstone, and Howard Magazine.

Here’s a List of Howard’s famous faculty:

  • Cathy Hughes- Media Entrepreneur
  • Ernest Everett Just- Marine Biologist
  • Ron Walters- Political Consultant
  • Charles Drew- Blood Shipment Pioneer
  • Francis Cress Welsing- Psychiatrist
  • Charles Hamilton Houston- Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Al Freeman Jr.- Emmy Award Winning Actor
  • John Davis- Political Science Professor
  • Roscoe Bartlett- Member of Congress from Maryland


Here’s a List of Howard’s Famous Alumni:

  • Ben Ali- Owner of Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • Debbie Allen- Choreographer, Actress and Singer
  • Nnamdi Azikiwe- 1st Nigerian President
  • Antoine Bethea- NFL Player
  • Elijah Cummings- Congressman
  • Ossie Davis- Actor
  • Cheick Modibo Diarra- Former Prime Minister of Malian and NASA Engineer
  • David Dinkins- 1st African American Mayor of New York City
  • Mike Espy- 1st African American U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
  • Adrian Fenty- Former Mayor of  Washington D.C.
  • Patricia Roberts Harris- 1st African American female Ambassador of the United States
  • Gus Johnson- American Sports Broadcaster
  • Vernon Jordan- Attorney
  • Ananda Lewis- Television Personality
  • Thurgood Marshall- Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • Toni Morrison- Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author
  • Phylicia Rashad- Actress and Singer
  • Kasim Reed- Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia
  • Crystal waters- Dance Music and House Music Singer/Songwriter
  • Andrew Young- United States Ambassador
  • A.J. Calloway- TV Personality

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