2013 Shirley M. Tilghman, Princeton University's 19th President,
steps down after a transformative presidency which includes several efforts
that were particularly important to the Black university community: the creation
of the Center for African American Studies, and the opening of its new home in historic
Stanhope Hall; The Carl A. Fields Center (formerly the Third World Center) moved
to its new home at 58 Prospect Street; increased resources
devoted to Black alumni engagement leading to Coming Back Black alumni conferences and Connect: A Black Alumni Leadership Initiative.
2012 Connect: A Black
Alumni Leadership Initiative, within the Aspire Campaign, exceeded its fundraising goals.
Lisa P. Jackson *86 was the first black alumna to win
the James Madison Medal, which is presented each year by the University to a
graduate alumnus/a who has had a distinguished career, advanced the cause of
graduate education or achieved an outstanding record of public service.
Lisa served as the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and served in
President Obama's cabinet.
2011 ent Henry ’69 became the first
black alumnus named vice chair of the University
Sonia Sotomayor ’76,
University Trustee, is appointed to the United States Supreme
2010 ABPA recognized Lauren Robinson
Ugorji '85, University Director of Communications (2009) and Marilyn
H. Marks *86, Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW) Editor (2010) for
"changing the face of Princeton” by consistently including people of color in
Princeton communication vehicles and in the editorially independent PAW.
2009 The Carl A. Fields Center (formerly TWC) moved into its new home at 58 Prospect Street.
"Coming Back & Moving Forward Conference
for Black Princeton Alumni” was the largest gathering of Black alumni in
University history, 650 attend the largest gathering of Black alumni
in University history. Conference website.
McCray ’74 releases Looking Forward: Reflections of Black
Princeton Alumni, a video documentary of the history of African American students
based upon interviews at the "Coming Back and Looking
Barack Obama S85 was inaugurated as the first African American
President in U.S. history and Michelle Obama ’85 became the first Princetonian and first African American
First Lady in U.S. history.
Terri Sewell ’86 elected to the United States Congress to represent Selma, the
7th Congressional District of Alabama.
2008 John Rogers ’80 was the first black alumnus to
win the Woodrow Wilson Award, which is bestowed annually upon
an undergraduate alumnus whose career embodies the spirit of "Princeton in
the Nation’s Service.” John went on to serve as co-chair for
the 2009 Obama-Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee.
2007 Princeton played against Hampton University in football at
Princeton Stadium, which is the first time that Princeton played a Historically Black College or
University (HBCU) and only the second time that an Ivy League University played an
Stanhope Hall opened as the new home for the Center for
African American Studies, after an extensive renovation.
Leading Change in Science and Technology: A
Princeton Engineering Conference for Black Alumni was organized by Prof.
William Massey '77 and attended by about 100 alumni.
2006 "Coming Back and Looking Forward: A Princeton University
Conference for Black Princeton Alumni,” spearheaded by Kenneth M. Bruce
'83, ABPA president, and was attended by over 500 people, the largest gathering of
Black alumni in the University's history. Conference website.
The University established the Center for African American Studies.
The University increased resources devoted to Black
alumni engagement and the office of the Alumni Association appointed Marguerite
Hadley Vera '79 as associate director of affiliated groups, which includes
ABPA, and the director of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations.
sponsored the Kaleidoscope Conference which focused on diversity
The Annual Pan-African Graduation Ceremony was created to celebrate
the achievements of graduates from the African diaspora and to reflect on the
unique cultural experiences of students from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin
America and the United States. The ceremony includes the presentation of kente
stoles and musical and religious elements drawn from different Pan-African
2003 Princeton alumni, led by
founder Henry Von Kohorn '66, and the University launched the Princeton Prize in
Race Relations, an awards program to recognize,
support and encourage high school students who have demonstrated a commitment
to advancing the cause of positive race relations. Beginning in Boston and
Washington, D.C., over time the Princeton Prize has expanded to 23 regions
across the country.
Court upholds the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan
in Grutter v. Bollinger.
2002 The Third World Center
was renamed the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding.
The ABPA Celebrates it's 30th Anniversary.
1999 Princeton in Africa, co-founded by Jim Floyd '69, develops
young leaders committed to Africa’s advancement by offering yearlong fellowship
1998 Princeton takes first
major steps to transform its financial aid policies, followed in 2001 by
the ground-breaking "no-loan” policy.
1997 ABPA Celebrates 25th Anniversary and Robert
L. Johnson *72, CEO, Black Entertainment Television (BET) provides the keynote.
Melvin McCray ’74 and Calvin
H. Norman, III '77 produce "Looking
Back: Reflections of Black Princeton Alumni,” a video
documentary on the history of African American students at Princeton for the
University’s 250th anniversary.
ent Henry ’69 became the first black alumnus elected chair of the
Alumni Council and president of the Alumni Association.
1996 Prof. Cornel West *80 was the
first black alumnus to win the James Madison Medal, which is presented each
year by the University to a graduate alumnus/a who has had a distinguished
career, advanced the cause of graduate education or achieved an outstanding
record of public service.
1995 Blacks Experience Princeton
Experiencing Blacks: 50 Years of Reflection was published as an eight part
series in the Daily Princetonian:
First black students face isolation, racism By MAGGIE SHI Daily
Princetonian, Volume 119, Number 28, 7 March 1995
University focuses on integration By MAGGIE SHI (Second in a series.) Daily Princetonian, Volume
119, Number 29, 8 March 1995
Black alumni recall 1960s By MAGGIE SHI (Third
in a series) Daily Princetonian, Volume 119, Number 30, 9 March 1995
TWC provides home for blacks
By SWATI DUTTA ROY (Fourth in a series) Daily Princetonian, Volume 119, Number
32, 20 March 1995
Blacks unite, fight racism in '70s By SWATI DUTTA ROY (Fifth in a series) Daily Princetonian, Volume
119, Number 33, 21 March 1995
College system erodes black student unity By SWATI DUTTA ROY (Sixth in a series) Daily Princetonian, Volume
119, Number 34, 22 March 1995
· Subtle racism pervades campus
By DAVID CZUCHLEWSKI (Seventh in a series) Daily Princetonian, Volume 119,
Number 35, 23 March 1995
Blacks seek improvements to race relations By DAVID CZUCHLEWSKI
(Final article in a series) Daily Princetonian, Volume 119, Number 36, 24 March
students face social obstacles, isolation in 1960s By MAGGIE SHI (This article was part
of a series called "Blacks Experience Princeton Experiencing Blacks: 50 Years of
Reflection" that ran March 1995) Reprinted for the Daily Princetonian
Special Alumni Day Issue, Volume 120, Number 16, 24 February 1996
Akira Bell '95, the daughter of Linda Brantley Bell Blackburn
’71, graduated and they became the first mother daughter Princeton
The ABPA Newsletter, December 1995, Volume VII, No. 1
1993 Toni Morrison, the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities,
was the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
On March 1st, Vice Provost Ruth Simmons
issues "Report on Campus Race Relations.”
1989 Andrew Young, then-Mayor of Atlanta and past U.S. Congressman and
U.N. Ambassador, was the first African American to deliver the University’s
Davis '71 and the ABPA presented a bust of Frederick Douglass, by Inge Hardison, to Princeton
University on the occasion of ABPA’s tenth anniversary celebration. The bust includes a plaque which recognizes
the annual recipients of the Frederick Douglass Awards, established by the University in
1968. The bust was originally installed in the
main study room of Firestone Library; and in 2009 it was relocated and became the main focal point upon
entry to the Center for African American Studies in Stanhope.
Eugene Y. Lowe, Jr. ’71
appointed Dean of Students.
1981 The ABPA held its first Reunions reception, at the urging of Emmett Haines Pritchard '71,
and it became
an annual tradition. One year later, C. Steve Dawson '70, ABPA
president, led the way and the ABPA began presenting annual awards to honor notable
alumni and faculty or staff members for their achievements and service.
1980s The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Celebration began at Princeton with undergraduate students organizing an annual
observation to honor the late civil rights leader. In 1995, the University
offered to support the program, making it open to the entire campus and
neighboring communities. Since then, the highly-attended program has come to
include essay, poster and video contests for schoolchildren, notable speakers
of the University of California v. Bakke decision condemns use of quotas in college admission but concludes
that it is permissible to take race into account, as one among several factors,
in seeking to secure the educational benefits of diversity. Justice
Powell’s decision quotes University President William Bowen’s writing on
the value of diversity.
John Cardwell, Ph.D.’68, the first undergraduate of color to earn a degree in psychology, returns as a Visiting
Lecturer to teach Issues in Black
1977 The Black Arrival at Princeton: The university's
first black administrator looks back on the 1960'sby Carl A. Fields was printed in the Princeton
Alumni Weekly (PAW), April 18, 1977 edition, and the second part of the
article, A Time of Adjustment: The early years of black
and minority presence at Princeton followed in the April 25, 1977PAW.The series
truly captures the challenges of integrating minority students into the
traditional Princeton experience. (Articles reproduced with the permission of the
Princeton Alumni Weekly and the estate of Dr. Carl A Fields)
Jill Pilgrim '80 becomes the first Black woman in Ivy League history to become first team All-Ivy, when she is recognized as All-Heptagonal (Ivy League, plus Army & Navy) first team in track and field.
ABPA does first
Black alumni survey which helps understand who they were, why they came to
Princeton, what they gained, and how they can best contribute to the university
1972 The Association of Black Princeton Alumni (ABPA) was founded by Howard W. Bell, Jr. '70,
Michael C. Calhoun '70, W. Roderick Hamilton '69, Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. '70,
Jerome Davis '71, Carl E. Drummond '71, and Girardeau Spann '71. Black alumni
were less than one percent of Princeton's alumni and ABPA's initial goals were
to foster Black alumni interaction and improve the Black student experience.
The group had the support of outgoing University president, Robert F. Goheen
'40 *48 and gained the support of new University president, William G. Bowen
1971 The Third World Center (TWC) was created when the trustees
approved the designation of the old Osborn Field House as a University facility
to be used primarily, but not exclusively, by minority students.
Jerome Davis '71 was the
first black Princeton student selected as a Rhodes Scholar.
1970 Larry Ellis was named head coach of track and field and cross
country, making him the first African American head coach of any sport in the
Ivy League. He later coached the U.S. Olympic men’s track and field team in the
Los Angeles Games of 1984.
Howard Bell ’70 was the first black student to receive
the Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction conferred on
Jerome Davis ’71 was the first black student elected
1969 First Black Undergraduate Women Students on campus and they were
given the friendly moniker the "Dirty Dozen”: Linda Blackburn ’71,
Terrell Nash ’71, and Carla Wilson ’71 became the first black women to
receive undergraduate degrees; Vera Marcus ’72 was the first admitted black
female freshman to graduate; Juanita Ray ’71; Michele Page ’72; Celeste
Brickler ’73; Tonna Gibert ’73; Barbara Green ’73; Carolyn Upshaw ’73; Laura
Thomas ’74 and Jan Robinson ’75.
The Program in African American Studies was created.
Robert Rivers ’53 was selected by the board to be a
University trustee, the first black alumnus to be so appointed. ent Henry ’69 was voted one of the first two young
alumni trustees, becoming the first black alumnus to be elected trustee.
The Frederick Douglass Awards were established by the University, at the
recommendation of Carl A. Fields, to recognize one or more seniors exhibiting
"courage, leadership, intellectual achievement and a willingness to contribute
unselfishly toward a deeper understanding of the experiences of racial
minorities and who, in so doing, reflect the tradition of service embodied in
education at Princeton.” The first awards were presented on
Class Day to ABC leaders, Paul Williams ’68 and Deane Buchanan ’68.
The Association of Black Collegians (ABC) was created
at Princeton to focus on the specific concerns of African American
students. That year ABC presented "The Future of the Black
Undergraduate,” a University-sponsored conference, which attracted 200
black students from major colleges and universities throughout the northeastern
A New Era for the Negro at Princeton by Bob Durkee '69 in the Dailly Princetonian.
1966 Carl Fields developed the "Family
Sponsor Program" which paired Black students and local Black families,
creating a host "home away from home." Jim Floyd, Jr. '69’s parents, Jim and Fannie
Floyd, were among the first family participants.
1964 Carl A. Fields was appointed the assistant director of student
aid, making Princeton the first Ivy League college to appoint a black
administrator. Four years later, his promotion
to Assistant Dean of the College made worldwide headlines.
1963 Sir W. Arthur Lewis, a
renowned economist known for his pioneering research in development economics,
was appointed the James Madison Professor of Political Economy and became Princeton’s
first black full professor. He was knighted the same year by Queen
Elizabeth II. In 1979, he received the
Nobel Prize in Economics – the first black person to receive a Nobel Prize in a category
other than peace or literature.
Cooperative School-College program was established, aiming to
"enlarge the pool of qualified Negro candidates for higher education.”
It later sought to include students from other socio-economically disadvantaged
groups from area public and private schools.
1960 Martin Luther King, Jr. preaches at the University Chapel.
University conferred the Doctor of Humanities honorary degree upon opera
singer Marian Anderson, making her the first African American woman to
receive such an honor.
1955 Charles T. Davis was appointed as an assistant professor in the
English department, becoming the first black scholar to hold a professorship at
1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision
holds that racially segregated schools are inherently unequal.
1951 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ralph Bunche received an honorary
degree from the University; he is believed to be the first African American to
be so honored.
1948 On August
24th, Princeton issued a statement to the Judiciary Committee on the Assembly
of the State Legislature in response to the Proposed Act Assembly 512, legislation
that challenged discriminatory practices in institutions of higher
learning in NJ: "It is, however, the position of Princeton University
that discriminatory practices in a private educational institutions
cannot be corrected, in any fundamental or long-range manner, by police
legislation. The only sound prescription for their eradication is to
provide a climate in which they cannot thrive. No punitive law can create
such a climate.”
1947 Joseph Ralph Moss ’51, believed to be the University’s
first regularly-admitted black undergraduate, arrived on campus in the fall of
1947, only months after Jackie Robinson integrated baseball.
1945 James Everett Ward '48 and Arthur "Pete” Jewell Wilson, Jr. ’47 are both admitted
to the Navy’s V-12 Program in 1945. Pete was the first black
athlete at Princeton. He was a starter
and key player on the Tigers’ 1944-45 basketball team, becoming team captain
the following season. He also played
sprint football and ran track during his time on campus.
passes the GI Bill of Rights, which provides WWII veterans with benefits
including education grants. This year also marked the establishment of the
United Negro College Fund (UNCF) by Frederick D. Patterson, which was
organized to help support African American college students.
1942 The Daily Princetonian published a series of
front-page editorials calling on the University to admit African
Americans. A poll showed the faculty
approved of undergraduate integration by a 3-to-1 margin, but only a bare majority of the
undergraduate body concurred.
Princeton belatedly admits its first African American
undergraduates in conjunction with the Navy’s V-12 program, which was
designed to select and train highly qualified men for commissioning as
officers in the Navy. A Naval Training School opens at Princeton on October 5 that
enrolled four African American officer candidates. John Leroy Howard ’47, was the
first to graduate from the Navy’s V-12 program and became the first black
student to earn a degree from Princeton.
1935 Bruce Wright was admitted as an undergraduate but was sent home
upon his arrival on campus, when the administration realized he was an African
American. He later became a prominent lawyer and New York State Supreme Court
judge. The Class of 2001 honored Wright during its Class Day exercises, naming
him an honorary class member.
changes undergraduate admissions procedures to include greater consideration
of subjective non-academic criteria, largely in order to limit admission
of Jewish applicants.
1909 Woodrow Wilson, University
president, protects Princeton’s racial homogeneity, writing that it
would be "altogether inadvisable for a colored man to enter.”
1895 Rev. Irwin William Langston Roundtree became the first African
American to earn a Master of Arts degree from the College of New Jersey
(Princeton University’s former name).
1890s Alexander Dumas Watkins was Princeton's first
African American instructor, tutoring students in histology, a branch of
anatomy. Watkins was largely self-taught
and served as an assistant to Professor William Libbey, Class of 1877.
1870s Four black students at the Princeton
Theological Seminary attended lectures conducted by college president James
McCosh. Several white college students
appealed to McCosh to expel the "negro” students and threatened to leave
the school if they remained. McCosh
refused and some college students left as promised, only to return a short time
later, begging to be readmitted. They
were permitted to return and attended class with the black students without
1843 James Collins, an African-born slave, escaped from Maryland,
fled to Princeton, and changed his name to James Johnson. He was recognized by
a Maryland student who informed the authorities. Johnson was arrested, tried and convicted of
violating the Fugitive Slave Act, but his freedom was purchased by a descendant
of President Witherspoon. He became a licensed vendor on the Princeton
University campus, and sold fruit, peanuts and candy to students out of a
wheelbarrow for the next 50 years.
Johnson died in 1902 at the age of 87 and was so beloved by Princeton
alumni and students they erected a headstone at his gravesite.
1792 John Chavis, a free black man, was probably the first African
American to study at Princeton. It is
unclear whether Chavis matriculated as a regular student or was privately tutored
by President John Witherspoon. Chavis became the first black minister licensed
to preach by the Presbyterian Church, and later opened the Chavis School in
Raleigh, North Carolina, which educated both white and free black children.
**** Kenneth M. Bruce '83 served as editor. Elizabeth A. Greenberg '02, University Office
of the Alumni Association, edited the version provided during the Coming Back & Moving
Forward Conference; Daniel J. Linke, University Archivist, edited a related
referenced timeline: Access to Higher
Education: A National and Princeton Timeline; James
A. Floyd, Jr. '69; Melvin R. McCray, Jr. '74; Robert Durkee '69,
University Secretary; Lauren Robinson Ugorji '85, University Director of
Communications; and Blackburn ’71 contributed
to the development of these important dates.