This Day in Black History: Sept. 10, 1976

Mordecai W. Johnson, noted educator and Howard University president, dies.

Posted: 09/10/2012 09:44 AM EDT
Mordecai W. Johnson, noted educator and longtime Howard University president, died on Sept. 10, 1976.

(Photo: Courtesy of Howard University)

Mordecai Wyatt Johnson was the first Black president of Howard University, having served in that position from 1926 until 1960. Johnson was born in Paris, Tennessee, in 1890, the son of former slaves. He received a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in 1911 and a second bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1913. He also studied at the Rochester Theological Seminary, Harvard University and Howard University. During his administration, the size of the student body increased from around 2,000 to more than 10,000. Also, during his years at the helm of Howard, the university was said to have the greatest collection of African-American scholars, including Alain Locke, the noted philosopher, and Ralph Bunche, a professor of political science who would become a noted diplomat.

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