12 Familiar Faces You May Not Have Known Were Products Of HBCUs
Photo Credit: Amy Sussman, Thaddaeus McAdams, Paul Drinkwater

12 Familiar Faces You May Not Have Known Were Products Of HBCUs

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are responsible for some of the nation’s most renowned doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, political and religious leaders, plus more.

And to be honest, we truly don’t know what a world without institutions that aid the rich knowledge and success of our people would look like (we’re glad we don’t even have to imagine it)!

AfroTech has decided to take this time to raise awareness of those HBCUs by spotlighting some familiar faces who are products of those pristine institutions.

1. 2 Chainz

Photo Credit: Thaddaeus McAdams

One of Atlanta’s hottest emcees is the product of Alabama State University!

Born Tauheed Epps, and formerly known as “Titti Boi,” 2 Chainz attended the university where he played basketball on a scholarship for two years upon transferring to another HBCU, Virginia State University, REVOLT reports. 

The “Money Maker” rapper eventually returned to Alabama State where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

2. The Allen Sisters

Photo Credit: Ron Sachs

Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen are the original hot girls!

These Houston natives both attended Howard University in the nation’s capital. 

Rashad graduated magna cum laude (come on brains and beauty) in 1970 where she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree upon going on to become the first Black actress to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She also stole our hearts as Claire Huxtable and has since returned to serve as the Dean of Howard’s College of Fine Arts.

Allen earned a bachelor’s degree in classical Greek literature, speech and theater. She has been nominated for 20 Emmy Awards (she has won five), two Tony Awards, and has won a Golden Globes Award. 

Best known for her role in the hit series, “Fame,” Allen continues to be a household name as an entrepreneur, director, producer and more!

3. David Banner

Photo Credit: Paras Griffin

A true Mississippi gentleman, Banner, whose real name is Lavell William Crump, according to EBONY, kept it in the family and attended his mother’s alma mater, Southern University, located in Baton Rouge, LA. 

During his tenure at the HBCU, the rapper and activist served as president of the student government before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business.

4. Will Packer

Photo Credit: Paras Griffin

EBONY reports that before he went on to make some of our favorite films like “Girls Trip,” “Think Like a Man” and “Ride Along,” Packer studied electrical engineering at Florida A&M University. 

In 1996, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering. Now he is not only a film producer but quite the entrepreneur as the founder of Will Packer Productions and Will Packer Media.

5. Yolanda Adams

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The “Reigning Queen of Gospel” is a product of Texas Southern University where she earned a bachelor’s in journalism, EBONY reports.

Prior to her singing career, Adams was a teacher, and has gone on to become one of the most-renowned gospel artists of our time!

6. Spike Lee

Photo Credit: Valerie Macon

Spike Lee is film royalty! The iconic filmmaker attended Morehouse in Atlanta where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.

While at Morehouse, Lee debuted his first student film, “Last Hustle in Brooklyn,” and kept it in the family at the Atlanta University Center (AUC) where he also took film classes at the neighboring HBCU, Clark Atlanta University, according to EBONY.

7. Samuel L. Jackson

Photo Credit: NAACP

Ironically, Spike Lee helped to fuel the career of his fellow Morehouse brother, Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson first studied marine biology upon switching his major to acting. He was also a member of a local acting group.

Despite being expelled for allegedly locking board members in a building for 48 hours to protest the school’s curriculum and bureaucracy, EBONY reports Jackson was still allowed to finish his degree.

To date, he has more than 125 film credits.

8. K. Michelle

Photo Credit: Leon Bennett

It’s a no-brainer that K. Michelle attended Florida A&M University on a music scholarship (the girl can blow)!

After she yodeled during her audition, the “Can’t Raise A Man” singer, was awarded a scholarship and the rest is history.

Although she took time off from school to give birth and attend to motherly duties for her son, the singer returned to FAMU where she earned a degree in psychology.

9. Oprah Winfrey

Photo Credit: Paul Drinkwater

Before she became the legendary Oprah, this Mississippi native studied communications at Tennessee University. 

AfroTech previously reported that Winfrey attended on a full scholarship after winning a debate contest and has gone on to become one of the most successful Black women that the world has ever seen. She also made history as the first Black female news anchor at WLAC-TV in Nashville, TN.

10. Taraji P. Henson

Photo Credit: Amy Sussman

No stranger to HBCUs, Yahoo reports Henson first attended North Carolina A&T where she studied electrical engineering.

After discovering her true passion, the “Think Like A Man” star transferred to Howard University where she studied drama upon graduating in 1995, AfroTech previously reported. 

11. Kamala Harris

Photo Credit: Nic Antaya

Last, but certainly not least, our Madam VP is the product of Howard University!

According to Blavity, before she was breaking down barriers as the first woman and person of color to hold the title as the nation’s vice president, you might have caught our Madam VP strolling on the yard as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Now, she’s making moves under the Biden administration just a hop and a skip down the street at the White House in the nation’s capital.