Historically Black: Jackson State University




1400 John R. Lynch Street | Jackson, MS | 39217



COLORS: Blue and White



A historically black college located in the heart of Jackson, Mississippi; Jackson State University has become one of the premier institutions for higher learning and higher research activity.
Originally in 1877, Jackson State was founded by the American Baptist Home Mission Society as Natchez Seminary. In an age where racial equality was still an obscene idea the seminary was created, “for the moral, religious, and intellectual improvement of Christian leaders of the colored people of Mississippi and the neighboring states.” After five years of residing in Natchez, MS. the school then relocated to Jackson in 1882 where the curriculum was expanded and the school‘s name was changed to Jackson College in 1899.
During the time frame of the 1930’s, the American Baptist Home Society decided after the growth of the institution to withdraw their support, prompting the administration to begin seeking state support to continue growing and remain in operation. Soon after the State of Mississippi stood up in support of the college, but mandated that the school’s primary focus be gearing towards to the training and development of teachers. In turn this brought to fruition the institution’s first four year education program that culminated with a Bachelors of Science in Education degree. Between the years of 1953 and 1956 the curriculum bar was raised to new heights by now including a graduate program and bachelor’s programs in Arts and Science. The institution became known then as Jackson State College and in 1974 became Jackson State University.
(Pictured: Philip Gibbs,left and James Green, right)
In May of 1970, Jackson State gained national notoriety and attention when two students, Philip Gibbs, a JSU junior, and James Green, a senior at Jim Hill High School, were killed by Jackson police when they opened fire on the campus during a student protest in the dormitory leaving 15 others wounded.
(Pictured: Alexander Hall Dormitory after the shooting, over 400 rounds of bullets was fired at the building and 160 bullet holes which can still be seen today.)
The dorm was located on a busy street in Jackson, “Lynch Street” named after Mississippi’s first congressman, many African American students would take this road headed to class and many white Americans at the time would take this route headed to work, while screaming racial slurs out their car window. This incident happening 10 days after the tragic Kent State University massacre without made Spring of 1970 a intense moment for American college students.  With tensions at an all time high in Jackson due to racism and civil rights, Jackson State students decided to protest during the spring after constantly being at odds with Governor John Bell Williams, predominantly white city officials, and law enforcement. After the murder of Green and Gibbs no emergency services were called as officers then continued picking up their gun shells and removed window glass from the scene. Members of the grand jury refused to indict any of the officers involved in the shooting agreeing that they overreacted but could not be held liable for the two deaths that resulted, all but two Supreme Court Justices refused to hear the case.
Years later after closing down Lynch Street, the university constructed a plaza in replace of it on campus for Jackson State students. The Gibbs-Green plaza now serves as a place for students to meet and spend time together, holding outdoor events such as concerts, greek shows, and homecoming gathering.
Today, Jackson State University has now become the fourth largest state supported institution in Mississippi, with 43 bachelor’s degrees, 36 master degree’s  and three specialist in education degrees. Recently in 2018 became the nation’s first HBCU to enter into a mentor-protege agreement under NASA’s Shared Services Center that will provide JSU with training and tools to become a major business contractor. Built upon a rich history of educators, fighter, and leaders in the community, Jackson State continues to raise the bar higher and excel even further never once forgetting and always acknowledging where they have came from and where they are going.


Jackson State has a history of producing some of society’s greatest key players in various fields of work including education, politics, engineering, music, and sports. The school’s motto of “challenging minds, changing lives” is something each student and alumni holds dear to their heart and will continue to live by as they venture into the world.


Dr. Rod Paige

First African American to serve as Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush Administration from 2001 to 2005

Arts, Entertainment, and Media:

DeMarco Morgan

American Anchor and News Reporter DeMarco Morgan was the only African American named in Scripps Howard’s Top 10 Collegiate Journalists while at Jackson State. He has done work with CBS, NBC, and ABC

Cassandra Wilson

Two-time Grammy Award winning Jazz vocalist and musician, member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Politics, Law, and Government:

Cornell Williams Brooks

American Lawyer and Activist, former President and CEO of NAACP, and former Senior Counsel for Federal Communication Commission

Bennie Thompson

U.S. representative for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District, ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security


Walter Payton

Super Bowl Champion while playing for the Chicago Bears, NFL Hall of Fame Class of 1993

Michael Tinsley

NCAA 400m Hurdles Champion while at Jackson State, Olympic and World Championship Silver Medalist

Lindsey Hunter

Former NBA point guard, 2001-02 NBA Champion with LA Lakers, 2003-04 NBA Champion with Detroit Pistons, and former Interim Head Coach of Phoenix Suns

Honorary Alumni:

First Lady Michelle Obama

First African American to serve as First Lady of the United States. She was given an honorary doctorate degree from Jackson State University where she served as Keynote Speaker at the 2016 Graduation commencement ceremony, becoming the 1st First Lady to do so in Mississippi.


Jackson State University offers 45 distinct undergraduate degrees, concentrated into 42 majors within 20 broad fields of study. Across all areas of study, Jackson State University has awarded nearly 3,000 degrees between 2015-2018.


Music Performance

 Visual Arts



Business Administration and Management






Elementary Education 

Music Teacher Education

Physical Education Teaching and Coaching 

Social Science Teacher Education 

Special Education and Teaching

Health Professions:

Communications Disorders

Health Care Management




Foreign Languages and Literature 


Liberal Arts and Humanities

Managerial Economics

Political Science and Government 


Rhetoric and Composition 

Social Work and Youth Services 


Urban Studies and Affairs

Protective Services:

Criminal Justice and Safety Studies

Science, Technology, and Math:

Atmospheric Science and Meteorology



Civil Engineering 

Computer and Information Studies 

Computer Engineering 

Electrical and Electronics Engineering 

Geology and Earth Science 

Mathematics & Statistics  


Trades and Personal Services:

Industrial Production Technician


Campus Life + Academics + The Experience

Now…with all of that being said you are probably wondering what campus life is like. Check out this next section featuring two JSU TIGERS!
Photography by William H. Kelly III



Career Goal: To become an anchor/reporter or news director

Honors: Tau Sigma, graduated Magna Cum Laude

“The yard was always lit on a Friday!”

What is your most memorable moment at JSU?
“My most memorable experience was Homecoming 2017. I was serving as the editor-in-chief of the student publications and I was in charge of interviewing all the artist performing at the Homecoming concert which included: Cardi B, Rich Homie Quan, Yo Gotti, MoneyBaggyo, and Lil Wayne. I was so excited.”
Which faculty/staff member inspired you the most throughout your college journey?
“One of my professors for the Mass Communication department, Bonnie Jackson, was very inspirational. I looked up to her because she cared, and she made sure students were her first priority. Ms. Jackson was selfless, knowledgeable, driven, and wise.”
What advice would you give a prospective student interested in enrolling?
Come in being open minded. When I came to Jackson State, I had one idea of the university based off of what I remember seeing growing up because my family went there and it was not even a mile away from my high school. Jackson State has so much more to offer and I was surprised about what I learned about the university when I first got there.”
Studying in the library or partying on the yard?
“Partying on the yard of course! I’m down for a turn up with no drama any day. That is actually really bad to say but it is true. The yard was always lit on a Friday!”
Favorite quote?
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

-Shirley Chisholm
Photography by DeJarius Evans



Major: Mass Communications with a Political Science minor

On campus organizations: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., JSU NAACP,  Campus Activity Board, Blue and White Flash News

“I came into JSU wanted to be a Sports Journalist and now I am striving to become a Activist, Author, as well as Political and Social activists.”

What attracted you to Jackson State University?
“Before I transferred to Jackson State I was attending a PWI in California. It being overcrowded, classes being full, and expectations of graduation on time beginning to dwindle JSU was a breath of fresh air. Coming on campus what attracted me was the family energy I felt from students and faculty, they wanted to see you become all you aspire to be and will help you in any way possible to do so. It was at Jackson State that I began wearing more suits and keeping up with my outer appearance, seeing so many of my African American counterparts looking professional and holding themselves to that standard truly impacted me.”
What advice would you give a prospective student?
“Although HBCUs are well known for their social life and homecomings, it’s imperative that you do research on their academic programs, see if they have the area of work you are interested in and connect with current students or graduated students and inquire about the success rate of the program and after leaving the school. If you do not know what you want to do you, HBCUs are the perfect place to find you calling within the first 2 years, I came into JSU wanted to be a Sports Journalist and now I am striving to become a Activist, Author, as well as Political and Social activists.”
Which famous alum you wished to have had class with?
“I wish I could of had classes with Journalist DeMarco Morgan. He has paved the way for so many communication majors at our school and really inspired us to go after what we want despite any adversity we may face or the stereotype of having a degree from a Mississippi institution.”
The library or partying on the yard?
“Definitely would find me partying on the yard, some days I would try to see how I can go to class for enough time and then hurry back to the yard quick enough to stroll with my brothers at the JSU hotspots.”
Favorite quote?
 “I trust the next chapter because I know the author.”