Richard Wirt Smith is Purdue’s first black athlete. In the 1904 edition of the Debris yearbook he is listed by his classmates as "the best baseball player in the class," and "the only one of his kind in the Pharmacy Class."
John Henry Weaver is on Purdue's track team. He is the first African American at Purdue to earn a letter "P" for athletic participation.
David Crosthwait, Jr. graduates with a B.S. degree from Purdue. He would later become a prominent electrical and mechanical engineer and an authority on heat transfer, ventilation, and air conditioning, including authoring numerous guides and receiving patents on numerous inventions.
Elmer James Cheeks becomes the first African American to graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
The Purdue sports program becomes segregated during the 1910s and 1920s, following a national trend.
Attack on Pearl Harbor causes United States to call for enlistment of young men. Many African Americans answer the call.
Despite the wartime influx of black student-soldiers, no black students on Purdue’s campus were allowed dormitory housing. Black men stayed in the International House in West Lafayette, while black women were forced to rent rooms in Lafayette or live at the Lafayette YWCA.
Famed singer Marian Anderson performs on Purdue's campus.
Indiana governor Ralph Gates pressures Purdue to desegregate its dormitories.
Housing in Purdue dormitories is desegregated.
Purdue alumnus Willard Ransom, an African American attorney, challenges the university on its policy of segregated sports teams. A student protest leads to a black football player being allowed to play.
Phillip V. Hammond becomes the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at Purdue. His degree is in pharmacology.
Dolores Cooper [Shockley] earns a Ph.D at Purdue University and becomes the first African American woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in pharmacology as well as the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. from Purdue.
African American athlete Lamar Lundy becomes only Boilermaker to win both basketball and football MVP awards in the same year
Speakers such as Jessie Jackson, Julian Bond, Dick Gregory, and the Indianapolis chapter of the Black Panthers visit Purdue’s campus.
Students organize the Negro History Study Group, which eventually becomes the Black Student Union.
Out of 20,176 Purdue students, only 129 are African American.
Approximately 150 students protest racism nonviolently by symbolically laying bricks on the stairs of Hovde Hall, the administration building. They also delivered a petition listing specific demands for change at the University. In response, Purdue President Frederick Hovde established the Schuhmann Committee to investigate the problems the students were experiencing.
One year after the student protest at Hovde Hall, the Exponent student newspaper publishes a supplement summarizing what progress had been made to meet the nine student demands. Almost none of the demands had been met satisfactorily.
Cheerleader Pam King stirs controversy after she does the Black Panther salute at both football and basketball games. In an interview she states, "This is the black man’s salute. It’s a symbol of pride and dignity for the black man—a symbol of unity. It shows we salute differently as a group. But that does not mean we are automatically at odds with the white man."
Classes focusing on African Americans are added to the curriculum in departments such as Speech, History, and Sociology.
Faculty in the Krannert School of Management establish the Business Opportunity Program (BOP) in April 1968 to increase diversity and give underrepresented students access to a world-class management education.
Purdue track team member Eric McCaskill is arrested for disorderly conduct after participating in a small demonstration. His arrest spurs a march from the Purdue Memorial Union into the town of Lafayette.
After his case is dismissed, the student marchers return to campus and demand to speak with President Hovde about their prior requests.
The Schuhmann Committee officially endorses the establishment of a black cultural center.
Purdue Board of Trustees unanimously accepts the development program for black students, including establishment of a black cultural center.
The Black Cultural Center is built and opens. According to Professor Singer Buchanan, the Black Cultural Center’s chief administrator, the establishment of the Center is "an attempt to bring together in one place as much of the black experience as is humanly possible, so that it may be visible and viable for all concerned…."
The first issue of Black Hurricane, the Black Student Union newspaper is published. The first page reads, "With the forces of one Black Nation, we shall move for total freedom. Just as a hurricane, our sphere knows no boundaries to its destination. For if it takes devastation to achieve our goals, so be it. . ."
Due to the efforts of black students and black faculty members, students are able to pursue a major or minor in Black Studies beginning in the fall semester of 1971.
John Houston, a graduate student, becomes the first official director of the Black Cultural Center.
Antonio Zamora is hired as the Director of the Black Cultural Center following the resignation of John Houston.
The Engineering Department starts the Minority Engineering Program, with alumna Marion Blalock as its head.
Purdue student and ASME member Tony Harris approaches President Arthur Hansen about forming a national organization for black engineering students. President Hansen sends out a letter to 80 different colleges and universities requesting that each send a representative to Purdue to discuss the formation of a national body. As a result, the National Society of Black Engineers is founded.
The Purdue Black Alumni Organization is founded on the 10th anniversary of the Black Cultural Center.
Black Cultural Center programs
Renee Thomas is appointed Director of the Black Cultural Center, following a national search.
Purdue Black Alumni Organization commissions the film Black Purdue, about the African American experience at Purdue University.
G. Christine Taylor is appointed as Purdue’s first vice provost for diversity and chief diversity officer.
The Exponent (Purdue University Student Newspaper)
The Lafayette Journal and Courier (Greater Lafayette Area Newspaper
"Pictorial Record of African American Students at Purdue University." Compiled by Alexandra Cornelius.
Purdue Alumnus. (Purdue University Alumni Magazine)
Purdue Debris. (Purdue University Yearbook)
"Board of Trustees Minutes." Purdue University.
Black Purdue, The African American Experience at Purdue University. DVD. Derek and Jamar Productions, 2009.
Why a Black Cultural Center? DVD. Directed by Jack Wertz. Southfield, MI: The Production People Ltd., 1971.