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Jackson State University

Jackson State University
Jackson State University seal.png
Former names
Natchez Seminary
Jackson College
Jackson State College
Motto"Challenging Minds, Changing Lives"
TypePublic, HBCU
EstablishedOctober 23, 1877 (1877-10-23)
Endowment36 million dollars
PresidentDr. William B Bynum, Jr.
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States

32°17′46″N 090°12′28″W / 32.29611°N 90.20778°W / 32.29611; -90.20778
ColorsNavy blue and White[2]
AthleticsNCAA Division ISWAC
MascotBengal the Tiger
Jackson State University logo.png

Jackson State University (Jackson State or JSU) is a public, historically black university in Jackson, Mississippi. The university is one of the largest HBCUs in the United States and the fourth largest university in Mississippi.[3]

The university is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, Jackson State University is classified as a research university with high research activity.[4]

Jackson State University's athletic teams, the Tigers, participate in NCAA Division I athletics as a member of the SWAC. The university is the home of the Sonic Boom of the South, a marching band founded in the 1940s.[5] Their accompanying danceline, the Prancing J-Settes, are well known for their unique style of dance, known as J-Setting.


Jackson State University was founded during the Reconstruction era, in 1877, in Natchez, Mississippi, as Natchez Seminary by the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York City. In 1882, the Society moved the school to Jackson, to what is today the campus of Millsaps College, and renamed it Jackson College. Construction began in 1885 at what is presently JSU's main campus. It became a state-supported public institution in 1940, being renamed the Mississippi Negro Training School. Since then, the name has been changed to: Jackson College for Negro Teachers (1944), Jackson State College (1967), and Jackson State University (1974).[6]

1970 student killings

Early on Friday, May 15, 1970, after incidents of students throwing rocks and setting fires,[7] city and state police shot into a women's dormitory. Two students were killed and 12 were injured.[8]


Ayer Hall.

The campus contains over 50 academic and administrative buildings on 245 acres (0.99 km2). The main campus is located on JR Lynch Street (named for the African-American Congressman of the 19th century) between Prentiss and Dalton streets in the central region of the city.

Ayer Hall was constructed in 1903 and is the oldest structure on campus. It was named in honor of the first president of the institution. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Green-Gibb Pedestrian Walkway (Plaza) was named in honor of those who died in the Jackson State shooting in 1970. Since the early 2000s, millions of dollars worth of renovations and new construction have been completed on campus due to JSU winning a $500 million lawsuit against the State of Mississippi for decades of discrimination and inequitable funding in 2001.[9]

Jackson State also has satellite campuses throughout the Jackson Metropolitan area, including the Universities Center (Ridgewood Road location), JSU-Madison campus, JSU-Holmes campus, JSU-Mississippi E-Center, and JSU-Downtown (Building 100 on Capital Street).


University rankings
Forbes[11] 462
U.S. News & World Report[12] 230-301
Washington Monthly[13] 32[10]

JSU colleges and schools include:

  • College of Business
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Public Service
  • School of Public Health
  • College of Science, Engineering and Technology
  • School of Journalism and Media Studies
  • W.E.B. Du Bois Honors College
  • School of Life Long Learning

In 2015, JSU became the first university in Mississippi approved by the legislature to establish a School of Public Health.[14]

JSU is the only university in Mississippi to earn two consecutive "Apple Distinguished School" distinctions. Apple Inc. biennially acknowledges schools that uniquely incorporate technology into its curriculum.[15] Since 2012, Jackson State University has provided all first-time, full-time freshmen brand new iPads to increase technology usage on campus.[16]

JSU is the first and only HBCU in Mississippi to support a bachelor's and master's level engineering program.[17]

JSU is one of only two universities in Mississippi with a comprehensive meteorology undergraduate level degree program.

Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranked JSU as among the top universities in the United States for producing African Americans with bachelor's degrees in education, biology, and physical science.[18]

Jackson State University consistently ranks in the top 20 of HBCUs in the US according to the U.S. News & World Report annual HBCU ranking.[19]

The W.E.B. Du Bois – Maria Luisa Alvarez Harvey Honors College is a selective interdisciplinary college at the university that provides a unique academic experience for the most high-achieving undergraduate students.[20]

The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and 14 other accreditation granting institutions to offer bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and education specialist degrees.[21]

Student life


Official athletics logo

Athletic teams are a member of the NCAA Division I-FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Southwestern Athletic Conference, commonly known as the SWAC. All SWAC sports are DI with Football being FCS. Currently, the university fields teams in men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, soccer, and bowling; women's volleyball; and men's football. The university's mascot is the Tiger, and the teams are sometimes referred to as the "Blue Bengals."

The Tiger men's football team has a heralded history, winning and sharing 16 SWAC titles, including 2007.[22] Its most famous alumni includes Pro Football Hall of Famers Lem Barney, Jackie Slater and Walter Payton, and former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith. Former NFL wide-receiver, five-time Pro Bowler and Jackson State alumnus Harold Jackson, served as head football in 2014 and 2015.

JSU's well-known rivals include Southern, Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State, Tennessee State, Texas Southern, and Grambling State.

Sonic Boom of the South

The Sonic Boom of the South at halftime in Veterans Memorial Stadium

The band was organized in the early 1940s. As early as the mid-1920s, the University had a well-organized orchestra. The group was given the nickname "The Sonic Boom of the South" by band director Harold J. Haughton Sr. in 1971. In 1971, the majorettes abandoned their batons and became a dance team known as the Prancing J-Settes, also named by Haughton. In 1974, "Get Ready", an old Motown favorite, was selected as the band's theme song. Also, during the mid-1970s, the "Tiger Run-On" was perfected. Created by Haughton, the "Tiger Run-On" is a fast, eye-catching shuffle step that blends an adagio step with an up-tempo shuffle (200 steps per minute), then back to adagio—a Sonic Boom trademark that brings fans to their feet during halftime performances. In October 1990, under the direction of Dowell Taylor and staff, five Sonic Boom of the South performed in Los Angeles, California, for Motown 30-What's Going on. This was the event that first drew national attention to the Sonic Boom.

The Sonic Boom of the South is led by five drum majors collectively referred to as the "Jackson Five" or "J5" for short.

Student organizations

Jackson State University offers over 100 registered student organizations. There are academic, residential, religious, Greek, and special interest groups established to serve the diverse interests of JSU's student community.[23] All student organizations are governed under the Student Affairs division.

Student body

As of fall 2017, 75% of Jackson State's student community was from Mississippi, with the majority from Hinds County and Madison County. The top three feeder states were Illinois (419 students), Louisiana (227), and Tennessee (192). China accounted for the highest number of international students on campus. 90% of students identified as black, 6% identified as white, and 4% identified with various race categories. 34% of students were male, and 66% of students were female.[24]

Student media

Jackson State is home to radio station WJSU-88.5 FM which plays jazz, gospel, news and public affairs programming. Jackson State University's public radio station, WJSU 88.5 FM, now airs one of its most popular programs on the new HBCU Sirius XM channel. Launched November 14, 2013 and airing on station 142, the HBCU Sirius XM channel is powered by Howard University. The WJSU program, Jazz Reflections, hosted by Gerard Howard, presents a spectrum of the traditional pioneers of jazz like Ella Fitzgerald, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Dinah Washington, and Duke Ellington. The program airs Fridays at 2 p.m. CST and is repeated throughout the week. It also presents rare recordings from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Jackson State University also owns a television station, W23BC known as JSUTV aired on Comcast. Jackson State also publishes the independent Blue and White Flash weekly student newspaper[25] and the Jacksonian Magazine which features news and highlights about the university, its students, and alumni.

Notable alumni


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Charlotte P. Morris 1970 Interim president of Tuskegee University (2010; 2017-2018) [26]
Dr. Rod Paige 1955 First African-American to serve as Secretary of Education during President George W. Bush administration from 2001 to 2005, former head football coach at Jackson State from 1964 to 1968, and interim president of JSU (2016–present)
John Peoples 1950 President of JSU 1967-1984

Arts, TV and radio media, entertainment and music

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Vivian Brown Weather Channel meteorologist [27]
Demarco Morgan News anchor for WNBC in New York City.
Percy Greene Founded the Jackson Advocate newspaper, Mississippi's oldest black-owned newspaper
Willie Norwood American Gospel singer, father and voice coach of R&B singers Brandy and Ray J
Tonea Stewart Actress and educator
Cassandra Wilson Jazz vocalist and musician

Politics, law, and government

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Cornell William Brooks 1983 Harvard trained lawyer that served as the 18th President and CEO of the NAACP
Emmett C. Burns, Jr. Member of the Maryland House of Delegates

from the 10th district

Robert G. Clark, Jr. Politician who was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1967. He was the first African American elected to the Mississippi State Legislature since the Reconstruction era.
Malcolm D. Jackson CIO at Environmental Protection Agency during President Barack Obama administration. He is a Presidential Appointment. [28]
Flossie Boyd-McIntyre 1960 Member North Carolina House of Representatives (1994–2002) [29]
Carlton W. Reeves 1986 Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi
Bennie G. Thompson Member U. S. House of Representatives (1993 - present)
Tony Yarber 2004 Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi [30]
Sollie B Norwood Member Mississippi Senator District 28 (2009 - present)


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Shasta Averyhardt 2008 Professional golfer, 1st African-American woman to qualify for the LPGA Tour since 2001, and its fourth African-American woman member in the 60-year history of the tour. [31]
Lem Barney NFL Hall of Fame cornerback with the Detroit Lions
Marcus Benard 2009 Current NFL linebacker
Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd Former Major League Baseball pitcher
Corey Bradford Former National Football League wide receiver
Robert Braddy Jackson State Tigers baseball player and coach [32]
Robert Brazile Former 7-time NFL Pro Bowl outside linebacker with the Houston Oilers [33]
Wes Chamberlain Former Major League outfielder
Dave Clark Former Major League outfielder
Eddie Payton 1973 NFL kick returner; current Jackson State golf coach
Walter Payton 1975 Pro Football Hall of Fame running back; played entire career for the Chicago Bears
Archie "Gunslinger" Cooley 1962 Former head football coach at Mississippi Valley State University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Norfolk State University, and Paul Quinn College
Leslie "Speedy" Duncan Former 4-time NFL Pro-Bowl cornerback with the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins.
Marvin Freeman Former Major League pitcher
Cletis Gordon Former NFL defensive back
Lindsey Hunter Former NBA point guard. Won the 2001–02 championship with the Los Angeles Lakers and the 2003–04 championship with the Detroit Pistons. He was formerly the interim heach coach of the Phoenix Suns.
Harold Jackson Former Jackson State Head Football Coach; former NFL wide receiver; played majority career with the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots
Claudis James Former NFL player
Jaymar Johnson 2008 Current NFL wide receiver
Trey Johnson Current NBA/NBA Development League Player
Robert Kent Jackson State and professional quarterback
Ed Manning Drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in the 8th round (1st pick, 80th overall) of the 1967 NBA draft, father of Danny Manning
Picasso Nelson Gridiron football player
Audie Norris Former NBA Power Forward and superstar for Winterthur FC Barcelona in the late 1980s
Donald Reese NFL Player; played for the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and the San Diego Chargers [34]
Purvis Short Former NBA small forward for the Golden State Warriors in the mid-1980s
Jackie Slater Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle; played entire career with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams
Jimmy Smith Retired NFL wide receiver; played majority career with the Jacksonville Jaguars [35]
Karen Taylor Played professionally in Europe, mother of Stanley Johnson [36]
Michael Tinsley 2006 Track & Field sprinter


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Malaika Griffin Convicted of anti-white racist hate crime murder of Jason Patrick Horsley in May 1999 and sought to start a race war [37]


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
First Lady Michelle Obama 2016 First African-American to serve as First Lady of the United States. She was given an honorary doctorate from Jackson State University where she served as the keynote speaker for its 2016 Spring undergraduate commencement ceremony [38]

See also


  1. ^ "University, community college enrollment down in Mississippi". Hattiesburg American.
  2. ^ "JSU Color Scheme | Style Guide". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  3. ^ September 28, 2015 (2015-09-28). "Jackson State Becomes the 4th Largest HBCU by Enrollment". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  4. ^ Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research (2014). "Carnegie Classifications". Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  5. ^ "A Brief History and Chronology of the "Sonic Boom."". Sonic Boom of the South. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2018. Although Dr. F.D. Hall served as director of the band, chorus and orchestra in the 1920s, the marching band began in the 1940s consisting of college students and students from Lanier High School.
  6. ^ "JSU History". Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Jackson State: A Tragedy Widely Forgotten". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  8. ^ Roy Reed, Special to The New York Times, "F.B.I. Investigating Killing Of 2 Negroes in Jackson :Two Negro Students Are Killed In Clash With Police in Jackson", New York Times (1857-Current file) [serial online]. May 16, 1970:1. Available from: ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). Accessed August 14, 2009, Document ID: 80023683.
  9. ^ cmaadmin (20 December 2015). "Jackson State Raises Non-Black Enrollment, Gains Control of Endowment".
  10. ^ "2014 National Universities Rankings". Washington Monthly. n.d. Archived from the original on August 28, 2014. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  11. ^ "America's Top Colleges 2018". Forbes. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  12. ^ "Best Colleges 2019: National Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. November 19, 2018.
  13. ^ "2018 Rankings - National Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  14. ^ May 4, 2015 (2015-05-04). "JSU to Create the 1st School of Public Health in Mississippi". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  15. ^ "JSU blossoms again as Apple Distinguished School for 2015-2017 | Jackson State Newsroom". 2015-12-18. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  16. ^ "JSU continues to promote innovation in education with iPad Initiative - Jackson State Newsroom".
  17. ^ "Best Historically Black Engineering Colleges" Archived 2016-05-13 at the Wayback Machine, US News & World Report
  18. ^ Education, Diverse Issues in Higher. "Top 100 Bachelor's Degree Producers". Archived from the original on 2016-09-15. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2016-10-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "W.E.B. Du Bois Honors College - Jackson State University". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  21. ^ "Accreditations and Memberships | Division of Academic and Student Affairs". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  22. ^ "Oliver leads Jackson State to SWAC title". The ClarionLedger.
  23. ^ "Student Organizations | Student Affairs". 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  24. ^ "2017-2018 Facts and Figures" (PDF). JSU Department of Institutional Research, Planning, & Assessment.
  25. ^ "JSU Student Publications". Issuu. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  26. ^ "Leadership Change at Tuskegee University". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. June 2, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  27. ^ "Vivian Brown". The Weather Channel Interactive, Inc. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  28. ^ "Malcolm D. Jackson, Chief Information Officer and Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information".
  29. ^ "Flossie Boyd-McIntyre Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  30. ^ "Office of the Mayor". City of Jackson, Mississippi. Retrieved April 2014. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  31. ^ "Former Jackson State golfer Shasta Averyhardt qualifies of LPGA tour".
  32. ^ Flynn, Bryan. "Bob Braddy".
  33. ^ "Robert Lorenzo Brazile". Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  34. ^ "Donald Francis Reese". Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  35. ^ "Jimmy Lee Smith". Pro-Football-Reference.Com. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  36. ^ Bruce Pascoe (7 November 2013) Johnson fulfills mom's hoops wishes Arizona Daily Star. Accessed 7 July 2015.
  37. ^ "Most Wanted Fugitive To Be Extradited". 7 June 2005.
  38. ^ "First lady Obama slams Mississippi's anti-LGBT law". Retrieved 15 September 2016.

External links