HBCU Love Stories: 8 Notable Couples Who Both Attended HBCUs

February is Black History Month and, with Valentine’s Day, also known as the month of love. What better way to combine both and highlight Black love, or better yet HBCU love! This Monday Morning MSI Lineup highlights notable couples, both current day and in history, in which both are HBCU alumni. If you know any HBCU love stories, or are one yourself, feel free to add your story in the comment section, and keep the love going!

Moss Couple1. Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III (Morehouse College) & Monica Ross (Spelman College)

Dr. Moss, the current senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Ill., is an accomplished author, speaker and activist. He published his first book, “Redemption in a Red Light District” in 1999 and co-authored “The Gospel Re-Mix; How to Reach the Hip-Hop Generation” in 2006. He is a life member of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, board member of The Christian Century Magazine, and chaplain of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Child Advocacy Conference. He is married to his college sweetheart, the former Monica Brown of Orlando, Fla., a Spelman College and Columbia University graduate who is a food justice and public health advocate.

The Franklins2. John Hope Franklin & Aurelia Whittington Franklin (both: Fisk University)

John Hope Franklin was an American historian of the United States and former president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Southern Historical Association. He is best known for his work “From Slavery to Freedom,” first published in 1947 and continually updated. More than 3 million copies have been sold. In 1995, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He graduated from Fisk University where he met his wife, Aurelia Whittington. She served as librarian in Raleigh, Durham, Prince George’s County, Md., and at Spingarn High School in Washington, D.C. She was awarded a master’s degree in Library Science from Catholic University. Aurelia served as adviser, editor and benefactor to John Hope as his career advanced: What they called the “Aurelia W. Franklin Scholarship” offered him time to conduct the research for “From Slavery to Freedom” in 1946.

Clarks3. Kenneth Bancroft Clark & Mamie Phipps Clark (both: Howard University)

The Clarks were African-American psychologists who, as a married team, conducted important research among children and were active in the Civil Rights Movement. They founded the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem and the Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited  organization. Kenneth Clark also was an educator and professor at City College of New York and first Black president of the American Psychological Association. They were known for their experiments in the 1940s using dolls to study children’s attitudes about race. The Clarks testified as expert witnesses in Briggs v. Elliott, one of the cases rolled into Brown vs. Board of Education (1954). Their work contributed to the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in which it determined that de jure racial segregation in public education was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the Brown vs. Board opinion, “To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”

abernathys4. Ralph Abernathy (Clark Atlanta University) & Juanita Jones Abernathy (Tennessee State University)

Ralph David Abernathy Sr. was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, a minister and a close associate of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Following King’s assassination, Dr. Abernathy took up the leadership of the SCLC Poor People’s Campaign and led the March on Washington, D.C., that had been planned for May 1968. In 1952 he married Juanita Jones Abernathy, who became pivotally involved in the Civil Rights Movement from the inception of the Montgomery bus boycott. For much of her life, her work has taken her throughout the world, working for justice and equality for all. Mrs. Abernathy continues to volunteer her time as a board member and board officer of numerous civic and religious organizations, including: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Morehouse School of Religion; Ralph David Abernathy Towers and Ralph David Abernathy Foundation; Fulton County Development Authority; Atlanta-Fulton County League of Women Voters; and Citizen Panel Review Board for the Development of Family and Children’s Services.

washingtons5. Booker T. Washington (Hampton) & Margaret James Murray (Fisk University)

Booker T. Washington was an African-American educator, author, orator and adviser to U.S. presidents. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community. He was of the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants who were newly oppressed by disfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1895, his Atlanta compromise called for avoiding confrontation over segregation and instead putting more reliance on long-term educational and economic advancement in the Black community. His base was the Tuskegee Institute, a Historically Black College in Alabama. In 1893, after being twice a widower, Washington, a Hampton alum, married his third wife, Margaret James Murray. She was from Mississippi and had graduated from Fisk University.

Herman & Franklin6. Alexis Herman (Xavier University of Louisiana) & Dr. Charles L. Franklin Jr. (Howard University)

Alexis Herman is an American politician who served as the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Labor, under President Bill Clinton. Prior to her appointment, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. She briefly attended Edgewood College, Madison, Wisc., and Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala., before transferring to St. Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she received a B.A. in Sociology in 1969. She joined the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta during her college years and supported the sorority throughout her career. In 1977, President Carter appointed Herman to the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, making the 29-year-old the youngest person to hold that position. In May 1997 she became the first African American to hold the position of Secretary of Labor and only the fifth woman in the history of this office to be appointed. Herman married Dr. Charles L. Franklin Jr. and lives in McLean, Va. After completing medical school in 1971, Dr. Franklin served as an intern in the U.S. Coast Guard. He completed his residency in obstetrics/gynecology at Howard University Hospital and then opened a family practice in nearby Silver Spring, Md., in 1976.

Norwoods7. William Ray “Willie” Norwood Sr. (Jackson State University) & Sonja B. Norwood (Southern University)

Willie Norwood Sr. is an American gospel singer and has been involved in singing since early childhood. He is mostly known as the father and voice coach of R&B singers Ray J and Brandy. Willie Norwood attended Jackson State University on a band scholarship. His wife Sonja Norwood, an alumna of Southern University, is an accomplished talent manager, television producer and deal maker. In April 2012, she completed her first ebook, “Change Starts With ME” and will begin online webinars and seminars with emphasis on the entertainment business and female empowerment through her “You Can Have It All and Change Starts With ME” series.

Richardsons8. Samuel L. Jackson (Morehouse College) & LaTanya Richardson (Spelman College)

Samuel L. Jackson, an alumnus of Morehouse College, is an American actor and film producer. He achieved prominence and critical acclaim in the early 1990s with films such as “Jungle Fever” (1991), “Patriot Games” (1992), “Amos & Andrew” (1993), “True Romance” (1993), “Jurassic Park” (1993) and his collaborations with director Quentin Tarantino in the films “Pulp Fiction” (1994) and “Jackie Brown” (1997). He is a highly prolific actor, appearing in over 100 films, including “Die Hard with a Vengeance” (1995), “Unbreakable” (2000), “Shaft” (2000), “The 51st State” (2001), and the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999–2005). Jackson has achieved critical and commercial acclaim, surpassing Frank Welker as the actor with the highest-grossing film total of all time in October 2011, and he has received numerous accolades and awards. In 1980, he married LaTanya Richardson, an actress, producer and alumna of Spelman College. In 2014, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for her 2013 performance in “A Raisin in the Sun” as Lena Younger, a role she took over at the last minute when Diahann Carroll dropped out due to health concerns. This was her second appearance on Broadway after her debut in the 2009 revival of Joe Turner’s “Come and Gone.”

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