Black College Hall of Fame adds to its long list of influential HBCU alumni
This year’s inductees include Mississippi Valley State and NFL great Jerry Rice
The National Black College Alumni (NBCA) Hall of Fame has honored some of the most influential and well-known African-Americans over the past 33 years. Oprah Winfrey, Phylicia Rashad, Walter Payton, Eddie Robinson, Tom Joyner and many others have been inducted.
Thomas Dortch Jr., chairman and CEO of the NBCA Hall of Fame Foundation, started the annual Hall of Fame weekend festivities in response to questions about the need for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) since black students are able to attend any U.S. college.
“So what we decided to do rather than being defensive, it was time for us to really begin to demonstrate, first, the products of HBCUs and what they were doing and how they were making a difference in the world. You take a Dr. Samuel Meyers, Fisk University graduate who worked on the atomic bomb. You can’t forget the Tuskegee Airmen and their greatness. You can’t forget the fact 60-plus percent of black doctors come from Meharry [Medical College], Morehouse School of Medicine and Howard school of medicine, and the list goes on,” said Dortch.
The Hall honors HBCU alums in 12 categories: arts and entertainment, athletics, business and industry, community service, civil rights, education, faith and theology, science, medicine, government and law, lifetime achievement award and the chairman’s award. Here is the 2018 NBCA Hall of Fame class:
athletics: Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice, one of the greatest football players ever, attended Mississippi Valley State University. He broke NCAA records there before playing 20 years in the NFL, where he set records and won three Super Bowls.
Business: Craig Welburn
Craig Welburn, who attended Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, was employed by New Jersey Bell for 10 years before he and his wife decided to open a McDonald’s restaurant in 1983. Today, they are the largest African-American McDonald’s franchise owners in the nation, operating 29 restaurants nationwide. They are also major investors in several Marriott and Hilton hotels. Welburn’s philanthropy includes establishing a Boys & Girls Club learning center in Woodbridge, Virginia, providing scholarships to many of his student employees and to students at Cheyney and Howard University.
At the induction ceremony, Welburn spoke about the impact HBCUs have made in his life. “An HBCU is a nurturing university. It has something that we wouldn’t really get from the general market areas,” he said. “For me, personally, that’s where I met my wife. That’s where I’ve met some of the best friends that I’ve ever had. Some of the people here with me this evening are people that I met my freshman year of college and we’ve still remained friends all these years, so I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start than an HBCU.”
Chairman’s Award: Rod Broadway
Although Rod Broadway did not attend an HBCU, he had a major impact on hundreds of HBCU students. Broadway spent 15 seasons as a head football coach, with an overall record of 127-45 (.738) at North Carolina Central, Grambling State and North Carolina A&T. He won five black college national championships, three Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles, one Southwestern Athletic Conference title and two Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships.
“Being at HBCUs gave me an opportunity to more than just coach, having the chance to mold 17-year-old black guys and turn them into men, and to see those guys grow and become successful businesspeople and leaders in our country,” he said. “It’s so important to what we do.”
Community service: Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson
Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, who attended Benedict College, is the immediate past president of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, where she is the only sorority leader to serve four consecutive terms on the board of directors. Recently, she served as the senior vice president at Goodwill Industries, where she was responsible for a $25 million enterprise in southern Wisconsin and metropolitan Chicago.
- Arts and entertainment: Dowell Taylor, Jackson State University, band director.
- Education: Lawrence Davis Jr., University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, professor, dean and chancellor.
- Theology: Audrey Bronson, Cheyney University, minister, bishop and educator.
- Government: Rear Adm. Annie B. Andrews, Savannah State, U.S. Navy, Federal Aviation Administration, pastor, former school superintendent.
- Industry: Henry Coaxum Jr., Talladega College, franchise owner, chairman of New Orleans Business Alliance, chairman and board member for multiple organizations.
- Medicine: Dr. James Densler, Savannah State and Meharry Medical College, nation’s first African-American pediatric surgeon and former chief of staff at Southwest Community Hospital.
- Lifetime achievement: Leonidas Epps Jr., longtime coach/athletic director of Clark Atlanta University.