Influential HBCU Graduates

Throughout history, HBCUs have prepared African American students for excellence and success once they leave the protective barriers of their campus and enter into the unknown and unprotected world. These institutions serve as a proving ground where students explore the rich history of African Americans in the development of this country, while planning how they will make a change and leave a lasting impact in society. For far too long HBCUs have been society’s hidden gem, but now people are finally beginning to see the pivotal role HBCUs play in the education of African Americans and how these institutions have educated some of the best and brightest. HBCUs have nurtured many students to become who they are today, and while these few influential HBCU graduates are celebrated and recognized for their excellence, there are many others in the shadows who are waiting for their time to shine when the moment is just right. So, of the many HBCU graduates to choose from to highlight for being influential, the following were chosen because they have made a major impact on society and have made great achievements advancing the recognition of how well HBCUs prepare students to excel in life and break barriers.

The APS List of Influential HBCU Graduates

Stacey AbramsStacey Abrams

Fair Fight Organization Founder
HBCU Attended: Spelman College
Graduation Year: 1995
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies
Twitter: @staceyabrams
Influential Moment: The former Georgia State Representative ran for Governor of Georgia in 2018. Immediately following her unsuccessful run for Governor, she immediately began working to make sure the voter suppression she faced as a candidate was never experienced again by any voter, so she founded the Fair Fight organization. As the leader of the Fair Fight organization, she was largely credited for increasing the number of registered African American voters in the state of Georgia for the 2020 elections. 

David BannerDavid Banner (Lavell William Crump)

Recording Artist, Actor, and Social Advocate
HBCU Attended: Southern University & University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)
Graduation Year: 1997
Major: Business Administration & Education
Twitter: @davidbanner
Influential Moment: He incorporated the sound of an HBCU band into his music inspired by the time he spent at Southern University and continually speaks in an open manner about controversial issues regarding race and celebrities, especially during the protests following the death of George Floyd.  

Chadwick BosemanChadwick Boseman

Actor & Director
HBCU Attended: Howard University
Graduation Year: 2000
Major: Fine Arts
Twitter: @chadwickboseman
Influential Moment: TheBlack Panther” movie was the first Marvel Pictures movie with a predominantly African American cast that received three Academy Awards that served as a groundbreaking role for Chadwick Boseman. The Black Panther movie inspired a generation by showing African American excellence in a superhero movie. Even though he is now deceased, his memory will live on forever through the many roles he has played in movies over the years. #WakandaForever 

Ruth CarterRuth Carter

Costume Designer
HBCU Attended: Hampton University
Graduation Year: 1982
Major: Fine & Performing Arts
Twitter: @iamRuthECarter
Influential Moment: The first African American costume designer to win an Academy Award for the work she did on the blockbuster movie “Black Panther.” She recently debuted her collection of clothes that she designed in the colors of red, black and green for clothing retailer H&M. 

Marian-Wright-Edelman_DCMarian Wright Edelman

Children’s Defense Fund Founder & President Emerita
HBCU Attended: Spelman College
Graduation Year: 1960
Major: Law Studies
Influential Moment: Marian Wright Edelman is a children’s rights activist who helped establish the Head Start program. She has advocated for disadvantaged Americans all of her professional life and is president emerita and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. 

Kamala HarrisKamala Harris

Vice President of the United States
HBCU Attended: Howard University
Graduation Year: 1986
Major: Liberal Arts
Twitter: @VP
Influential Moment: The first African American and Asian American woman to be elected Vice President of the United States of America. By being elected for this position, she proved HBCUs prepare students to achieve their wildest dreams. 

Damien-Hooper-CampbellDamien Hooper-Campbell

Chief Diversity Officer at Zoom Video Communications
HBCU Attended: Morehouse College
Graduation Year: 2002
Major: Economics
Twitter: @dhoopcamp
Influential Moment: The first person to serve as a diversity leader at Zoom, eBay, and Uber focused on advancing diversity for historically marginalized groups at a time when people across the world are relying on video communications to communicate, learn, and work.

Lonnie JohnsonLonnie Johnson

American Inventor & Engineer
HBCU Attended: Tuskegee University
Graduation Year: 1973
Major: Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering
Twitter: @LonnieGJohnson
Influential Moment: An inventor and engineer, he holds more than 120 patents and invented the Super Soaker water gun, one of the world’s bestselling toys. He also worked at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab. 

Paul JudgePaul Judge, Ph.D.

Technology Entrepreneur & Investor
HBCU Attended: Morehouse College
Graduation Year: 1998
Major: Computer Science
Twitter: @PaulJudge
Influential Moment: Launched a $300 million dollar venture capitalist fund for new technology startups, which is the largest venture fund amount launched in history by an African American male.

marilyn-mosbyMarilyn Mosby

State’s Attorney for the City of Baltimore
HBCU Attended: Tuskegee University
Graduation Year: 2003
Major: Political Science & English
Twitter: @MarilynMosbyEsq
Influential Moment: She is the youngest chief prosecutor of any major U.S. city and has been a major advocate for other Black women serving in the same position around the country. She first gained national attention in 2015 when her Baltimore prosecution office indicted six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray. 

Anika-Noni-RoseAnika Noni-Rose

Actor & Musical Artist
HBCU Attended: Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU)
Graduation Year: 1994
Major: Theater
Twitter: @AnikaNoniRose
Influential Moment: She was the voice of Disney’s Princess Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog,” the first animated film about an African American princess. She was the series lead in “The Quad,” which was about her becoming the new school president of a fictional HBCU in Georgia. She also starred alongside Beyoncé in “Dream Girls.” For her acting performances, she has won a Tony Award and a Peabody Award.

Raphael WarnockRaphael Warnock, Ph.D.

United States Senator for the State of Georgia
HBCU Attended: Morehouse College
Graduation Year: 1991Major: Psychology
Twitter: @ReverandWarnock
Influential Moment: The first African American Senator to represent the state of Georgia when he was elected to the Senate in 2020 and serves as pastor at the same church founded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and where he served as pastor.