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Historically Black colleges and universities have always been a space to cultivate talent. Not just in sports or entertainment, but as world figures, thought leaders and revolutionaries. When you have the power of education under your belt — there’s almost nothing that can stop you from shifting culture.

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These 11 ground breakers opted to attend an HBCU and eventually took on the world. Judging by their successes, they all made the right choice.

Toni Morrison

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The legendary author, known for her Pulitzer prize winning novel Beloved and her best selling books, including The Bluest Eye, graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in English.

Alice Walker

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The poet and actress, known for her novel The Color Purple, attended Spelman College.

Jesse Jackson

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The politician began his career in activism while attending North Carolina A&T. He even participated in marches and boycotts with Dr. Martin Luther King during his college years.

John Thompson

Thompson, who currently serves as the chairman of Microsoft, recieved his bachelors in business from Florida A&M in the early 70’s.

Rosalind Brewer

The Sam’s Club CEO is the first Black woman to hold a position at Wal Mart inc. She earned her bachelor’s in chemistry at Spelman University.

Dr. Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaking at News Conference

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Dr. King is probably one of the most influential and legendary people on this list and in history. The reverend and activist attended Morehouse College and graduated in 1948.

Booker T. Washington

Portrait Of Booker T. Washington.

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The great thinker and educator is one of the most notable alumni’s that any HBCU could have. He attended Hampton University (then known as Hampton Institute)  before graduating in 1875.

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) Associate Justice of the United Nations Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court's 96th justice and its first African-American justice.

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Marshall, who made history as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice in United States history, attended Lincoln University and Howard University in the late 1920’s. His classmates included historical figures like Langston Hughes and Cab Calloway.

Langston Hughes

Portrait Of Langston Hughes

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The infamous poet and civil rights activist became the face of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s after his tenure at Lincoln University.

Katherine Johnson

The mathematician and computer scientist, who was apart of the the all-male flight research division of NASA and famously calculated the flight trajectory for Apollo 11’s moon flight in 1969, attended West Virginia University. Her character was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the film Hidden Figures. She  celebrated her 99th birthday in August 2017.

Ed Bradley 

The television correspondent attended Cheyney State College in Pennsylvania. Bradley became the first Black journalist to cover the White House and went on to win 19 Emmy Awards as a correspondent for 60 Minutes before his death in 2006.

11 HBCU Graduates Who Changed The World  was originally published on