HBCUs produce some of the best and brightest graduates in the world. The alumni of these institutions go on to do amazing things in the United States and abroad. This Monday Morning MSI Line Up will highlight some famous and notable HBCU alumni. Some of these persons may be familiar and some of them may not be. However, make sure to learn more about these HBCU grads and their accomplishments and remember they all began blossoming into their greatness in the soil of HBCU campuses.
Jerry Rice attended Mississippi Valley State University from 1981 to 1984. Rice is a former American football wide receiver who played 20 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He is widely considered to be the greatest wide receiver in NFL history and among the greatest NFL players overall. He is the all-time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers, including receptions, touchdown receptions, and yards.
Jamilah Lemieux is the Senior Editor for EBONY.com. In 2005, she created the award-winning blog, The Beautiful Struggler, where for more than six years, she published meditations on race and relationships. Jamilah has contributed to a host of publications including Essence, JET, Clutch, The Loop, Madame Noire, Black Enterprise Online, and Jezebel. She has appeared on a number of radio programs, including NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “The Michael Eric Dyson Show,” WBAI’s “The Spin,” and “Al B. In The Afternoon” on Philadelphia’s 900AM WURD. Jamilah recently appeared in a Nightline special on racial inequality and police profiling. You can follow her on Twitter at @jamilahlemieux.
3.) Mandisa – Fisk University
Mandisa Lynn Hundley, known professionally as Mandisa, is an American gospel and contemporary Christian recording artist. A graduate of Nashville’s Fisk University, she performed as part of the legendary Fisk Jubilee Singers, but gained national acclaim when she placed ninth on the fifth season of American Idol. She signed a deal with Sparrow Records and released her debut, True Beauty in 2007, which earned her the first of three Grammy nominations. She followed with a stellar sophomore effort, 2009’s Freedom. This year The Hollywood Reporter listed Mandisa in the Top 5 of Idol finalists with the most Billboard No. 1s. She is the fifth American Idol alumnus to win a Grammy Award when her album Overcomer won the Best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2014.
4.) Michael Strahan – Texas Southern University
Michael Strahan is a retired American football defensive end who spent his entire 14-year career playing for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). During his tenure with the Giants, Strahan set a record for the most sacks in a single season in 2001, and won a Super Bowl in his final season in 2007. After retiring from the NFL, Strahan became a media personality. He is currently a football analyst on Fox NFL Sunday and he also serves as co-host on the television morning talk show Live! with Kelly and Michael alongside Kelly Ripa. He starred in and produced the short-lived Fox sitcom Brothers and appeared as host for Pros vs. Joes alongside fellow Fox football analyst Jay Glazer. On February 1, 2014, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
5.) Toni Morrison – Howard University
Toni Morrison is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best-known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. In 1949 Morrison entered Howard University, where she received a B.A. in English in 1953. She also, became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
6.) Wanda Sykes – Hampton University
Wanda Sykes is an American writer, comedian, actress, and voice artist. She earned the 1999 Emmy Award for her writing on The Chris Rock Show. In 2004, Entertainment Weekly named Sykes as one of the 25 funniest people in America. She is well known for her role as Barbara Baran on The New Adventures of Old Christine and for her appearances on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. In November 2009, The Wanda Sykes Show, her own late-night talk show, premiered on Fox. Sykes has also had a successful career in film, appearing in Monster-in-Law, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Evan Almighty, and License to Wed, and voiced characters in Over the Hedge, Barnyard, Brother Bear 2, Rio, and Ice Age: Continental Drift. In 2010 she won a GLAAD award for promoting a good image of equal rights for gays and lesbians.
7.) James Clyburn – South Carolina State University
When Clyburn came to Congress in 1993, he was elected co-President of his Freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks. He was elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1999, and his reputation as a leader and consensus-builder helped him win a difficult three-way race for House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair in 2002. Three years later, he was unanimously elected Chair of the Democratic Caucus. When Democrats regained the House majority in 2006, Congressman Clyburn was elevated by his colleagues to House Majority Whip.
8.) Yolanda Adams – Texas Southern University
Yolanda Adams is an American gospel singer, record producer, actress, and radio host on WBLS. After graduating from Texas Southern University, she began a career as a schoolteacher and part-time model in Houston, eventually leaving to pursue her singing career. As of September 2009, she had sold 4.5 million albums since 1991 in the United States, and nearly 8 million albums worldwide. On December 11, 2009, Billboard Magazine named her the No. 1 Gospel Artist of the last decade.
9.) Common – Florida A&M University
Common is an American hip hop recording artist and actor from Chicago, Illinois. Common debuted in 1992, with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? In 2011, Common launched Think Common Entertainment, his own record label imprint and in the past has released music under various other labels such as Relativity, Geffen and GOOD Music, among others. Common attended Florida A&M University earning a degree in business administration before some recognition by The Source magazine propelled his career into rap and acting.
10.) Keshia Knight Pulliam – Spelman College
Keshia Knight Pulliam is an American actress. She is best known for her childhood role as Rudy Huxtable, the youngest child of Cliff and Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1984–92) and as reformed con artist Miranda Lucas-Payne on the TBS comedy-drama Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (2007–12). She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Spelman College in 2001. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.