Notable Alumni

Henry E. Cheaney, Ph.D., ‘36, Educator and nationally-recognized expert on the history of African Americans in Kentucky

Anna Mac Clarke,  ’41, Member of Women’s Army Corps during WWII; 1st African American officer of an all-white company

Tom Colbert , First African-American Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice

Travis Grant, College basketball star on Kentucky State University’s 1970, 1971 and 1972 NAIA National Championship teams; went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers

Cletidus Hunt, played six seasons in the NFL (1999-2004)

Paul William Lawrence Jones, 1898, Educator, historian & athlete; preserved much of what Kentucky State now has in the way of books and documents about the early years of Kentucky State; started some of the 1st football, baseball & track teams at KSU, known as the “Father of Athletics” at Kentucky State.

John Merritt , ’50 One of the winningest coaches in HBCU football history

James L. McCullin, ’42, Tuskegee Airman whose plane was lost over Sicily during WWII

Ersa Hines Poston,  ’42, Member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission; appointed by Pres. Carter & confirmed by the Senate; 1st Black to hold a presidential cabinet position

H.C. Russell, Jr. , Ensign in Coast Guard during WWII; became the third African American commissioned officer in the Coast Guard; later became executive with Pepsi Cola

Patricia RussellMcCloud, ’68, 11th National President of The Links, Inc.,  National Parliamentarian to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has been named as one of the top five business motivators in the country by Black Enterprise Magazine; identified as one of the top 10 speakers in America.

Winnie A. Scott, 1890, Educator and helped establish a hospital for African Americans in Frankfort; member of first graduating class at Kentucky State

Yingluck Shinawatra, ’91 Prime Minister of Thailand (2011–2013)

Frank Simpson,  ’42, Educator; high school principal for 21 years and administrator in the Louisville schools

Moneta Sleet, Jr., ’47, Photographer; became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for photography; photo of Coretta Scott King at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral

Effie Waller Smith, ca. 1900, Educator & poet; poet James Still called her “Kentucky’s Emily Dickinson”

Luska Twyman, ’38, Former mayor of Glasgow, Ky; 1st Black mayor of a Kentucky city

Harrison Wilson, Ph.D., ’50, President of Norfolk State University

Whitney M. Young, Jr., ’41, Civil rights, Executive Director of the National Urban League from 1961-1971