Facts about our Black alumni

We’re celebrating Black History Month by not only acknowledging some of our most accomplished black alumni, but by sharing stories that you might have not heard otherwise.

Barbara Jordan (LAW’59)

Jordan is best known for her eloquent opening statement at the House Judiciary Committee hearings during the impeachment process against Richard Nixon. She was also the first African-American AND first woman to deliver a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention.


Butler Roland Wilson (LAW’84)

Wilson was one of the first African-American members of the American Bar Association. He was also instrumental in getting the city to erect a monument to Crispus Attucks and the other victims of the Boston Massacre.


Emanuel Hewlett (LAW’77)

Hewlett was the first black BU Law graduate and was among the first African Americans to be admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court. He also became custodian to Frederick Douglass’ grandchildren after their mother and his sister, Virginia Hewlett Douglass, passed away.


Howard Thurman (Hon.’67)

As the Marsh Chapel dean from 1953 to 1965, Thurman was the first black dean at a mostly white American university. It was also Thurman who educated Dr. King in the mahatma’s ideas of nonviolent protest.


Louis Wade Sullivan (MED’58)

Sullivan was the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services under President George H. W. Bush. As a professor of medicine at BU in the ’70s, he specialized in “sickle-cell anemia and blood disorders related to vitamin deficiencies.”


Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59)

King led the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., where he first began to attract national recognition, approximately six months after getting his PhD from Boston University.