Black History Month: Notable People in OSU History

We’ve been inspired by an MIT website documenting the black experience on that campus. From , “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which ones from the teaching of biography and history.”

OSU’s campus newspaper, The Lantern, published a list of notable dates in a 1998 article authored by Erika M Anderson and Matt Oates. They compiled this information from the University Archives. We’ve excerpted their fine work here. We’ve also added several notable OSU alumni and information we found at websites of the OSU Black Alumni Society , the College of Pharmacy , and Black Milestones in Higher Education: Buckeye Edition.

  • Sherman Hamlin Guss is the first black man to graduate from OSU. He earned a liberal arts degree in 1892.
  • Dr. Charles Edgar Newsome becomes the first African American to graduate from Ohio Medical University, the predecessor to the OSU School of Medicine in 1893.
  • Dr. Arthur Lawrence is the first black graduate of the OSU College of Pharmacy in 1897. He earned his medical degree from OSU in 1907.
  • Jessie Frances Stephens became the first black female to graduate from OSU in 1905 with a bachelor of arts degree and specialized in modern languages.
  • Fannie Jamison is the first black woman to graduate from the OSU College of Pharmacy in 1907.
  • Dr. Clarence Alphonso Lindsay, Dr. Rudolph Finley, and Dr. Charles Robert Lewis become the first African Americans to graduate from the OSU School of Medicine in 1916.
  • William Bell was the first black varsity football player in the 1930s. Bell suffered at the hands of both his teammates and opponents each game, when they used their metal cleats on his legs, leaving them bloody during each game.
  • Jesse Owens, one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, set new Olympic records at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. He won four gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, the broad jump and running as the anchor in on the relay team – but Adolf Hitler refused to shake his hand. During Owens’ freshman and sophomore years at OSU, he became the only track and field athlete to set three world records. Owens earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1937.
  •  General Lamar Harrison becomes the first African American male to earn a Ph.D. at Ohio State in 1936. His degree was in Education.
  • Dr. Clotilde Marion Bowen, the first African-American female to graduate from Ohio State’s Medical School, as well as the first African-American female physician in the United States Army and first black female US Army Colonel, 1943, 1947
  • Dr. Helen G. Edmonds, professor of history at North Carolina Central University, first black woman to earn a Ph.D. at Ohio State in 1946.
  • Dr. Roy C. Darlington is the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in the College of Pharmacy, 1947.
  • Dr. Frank Hale, Jr. was Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University 1971-1988. He earned a Ph.D. in Communication and Political Science from OSU in 1955.
  • Dr. Alivia Bozeman becomes OSU’s first tenured Black female faculty member in 1960. Her department was Education.
  • Dr. Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., was the first African American selected to be an astronaut. He earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at OSU in 1965.
  • Keith R. Burkes is the first black man to be the “Brutus Buckeye” mascot in 1974.
  • Dr. Frank W. Hale, Jr., the vice provost emeritus of Minority Affairs, was honored when the Hale Black Cultural Center opened on 12th Avenue in 1989.
  • Dr. Michael V. Drake is the first black university president, 2014.