Jackson State University

Last updated
Jackson State University
Jackson State University seal.png
Former names
Natchez Seminary
Jackson College
Jackson State College
Motto"Challenging Minds, Changing Lives"
Type Public, HBCU
EstablishedOctober 23, 1877 (1877-10-23)
Endowment 36 million dollars
President Dr. William B Bynum, Jr.
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students7,709 [1]
Location, ,
United States

32°17′46″N090°12′28″W / 32.29611°N 90.20778°W / 32.29611; -90.20778 Coordinates: 32°17′46″N090°12′28″W / 32.29611°N 90.20778°W / 32.29611; -90.20778
Colors Navy blue and White [2]
Athletics NCAA Division ISWAC
Nickname Tigers
MascotBengal the Tiger
Website www.jsums.edu
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]

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community. This was because the overwhelming majority of predominantly white institutions of higher-learning disqualified African Americans from enrollment during segregation. From the time of slavery in the 19th century through to the second half of the 20th century, majority schools in the Southern United States prohibited all African Americans from attending, while historic schools in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit admissions of blacks.

Jackson, Mississippi Capital of Mississippi

Jackson, officially the City of Jackson, is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County, along with Raymond, Mississippi. The city of Jackson also includes around 3,000 acres comprising Jackson-Medgar Evers International Airport in Rankin County and a small portion of Madison County. The city's population was estimated to be 165,072 in 2017, a decline from 173,514 in 2010. The city sits on the Pearl River and is located in the greater Jackson Prairie region of Mississippi.

Mississippi State of the United States of America

Mississippi is a state in the Deep South region of the southeastern United States. Mississippi is the 32nd most extensive and 34th most populous of the 50 U.S. states. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana to the south, and Arkansas and Louisiana to the west. The state's western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson, with a population of approximately 167,000 people, is both the state's capital and largest city.


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]

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is an American non-profit organization that supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include public historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), medical schools, and law schools. It is named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice, Thurgood Marshall. Its major partners include McDonald's and several others.

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, or simply the Carnegie Classification, is the framework for classifying colleges and universities in the United States. Created in 1970, it is named after and was originally created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, but responsibility for the Carnegie Classification was transferred to Indiana University's Center for Postsecondary Research, in 2014. The framework primarily serves educational and research purposes, where it is often important to identify groups of roughly comparable institutions. The classification includes all accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States that are represented in the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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 Tigers and Lady Tigers

The Jackson State Tigers and Lady Tigers represent Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi, in NCAA intercollegiate athletics.

NCAA Division I highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association

NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Collegiate athletic conference made up of historically black colleges and universities

The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is a collegiate athletic conference headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, which is made up of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Southern United States. It participates in the NCAA's Division I for all sports; in football, it participates in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly referred to as Division I-AA.


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]

Reconstruction era Era of military occupation in the Southern United States after the American Civil War (1865–1877)

The Reconstruction era was the period from 1863 to 1877 in American history. It was a significant chapter in the history of American civil rights.

Natchez, Mississippi Sole incorporated city in Mississippi, United States

Natchez is the county seat and only city of Adams County, Mississippi, United States. Natchez has a total population of 15,792. Located on the Mississippi River across from Vidalia in Concordia Parish, Louisiana, Natchez was a prominent city in the antebellum years, a center of cotton planters and Mississippi River trade.

The American Baptist Home Mission Society is a Christian missionary society. Its main predecessor the Home Mission Society was established in New York City in 1832 to operate in the American frontier, with the stated mission "to preach the Gospel, establish churches and give support and ministry to the unchurched and destitute." In the 19th century, the Society was related to the Triennial Convention of Baptists. Today it is part of that Convention's successor, the American Baptist Churches, USA, and is the successor by merger of several 19th century Baptist organizations related to missions and education, including publications (1824), women (1877), and education (1888).

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. Ayers Hall 1.jpg
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.

John R. Lynch American politician

John Roy Lynch was an African-American Republican politician, writer, attorney and military officer. Born into slavery in Louisiana, he became free in 1863 under the Emancipation Proclamation. His father was an Irish immigrant and his parents had a common-law marriage. After serving for several years in the state legislature, in 1873 Lynch was elected as the first African-American Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives; he was the first African American to hold this position in the country. During Reconstruction after the American Civil War, he was among the first generation of African Americans from the South elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1873 to 1877 and again in the 1880s. Faced with increasing restrictions in Mississippi, Lynch studied law, passed the bar, and returned to Washington, DC to set up a practice.

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

JSU colleges and schools include:

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 JacksonStateTigers.png
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 JSU Sonic Boom of the South at Halftime.jpg
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


NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Charlotte P. Morris 1970Interim president of Tuskegee University (2010; 2017-2018) [26]
Dr. Rod Paige 1955First 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 1950President of JSU 1967-1984

Arts, TV and radio media, entertainment and music

NameClass yearNotabilityReference(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

NameClass yearNotabilityReference(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. JacksonCIO at Environmental Protection Agency during President Barack Obama administration. He is a Presidential Appointment. [28]
Flossie Boyd-McIntyre1960Member North Carolina House of Representatives (1994–2002) [29]
Carlton W. Reeves 1986Judge 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 2004Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi [30]
Sollie B Norwood Member Mississippi Senator District 28 (2009 - present)


NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Shasta Averyhardt 2008Professional 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 2009Current 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 1973NFL kick returner; current Jackson State golf coach
Walter Payton 1975Pro Football Hall of Fame running back; played entire career for the Chicago Bears
Archie "Gunslinger" Cooley 1962Former 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 2008Current 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 2006Track & Field sprinter


NameClass yearNotabilityReference(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]


NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
First Lady Michelle Obama 2016First 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

Related Research Articles

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Texas Southern University university

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Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium stadium

Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium is an outdoor football stadium in Jackson, Mississippi, United States. Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium has been the home stadium of the Jackson State Tigers football team since 1970, and owned and operated by Jackson State University since July 1, 2011. Originally known as War Veterans Memorial Stadium, it was later known as Hinds County War Memorial Stadium. It was redesigned and enlarged in 1960 and Ole Miss vs. Arkansas dedicated Mississippi Memorial Stadium in 1961 before a capacity crowd of 46,000. With political support from Ole Miss and Mississippi State and leadership from Ole Miss Athletics Director Warner Alford, Mississippi Memorial Stadium was enlarged to 62,500 in 1981 and on September 26, 1981 Ole Miss and Arkansas again dedicated the facility before 63,522.

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Jackson State–Southern University rivalry

The Jackson State–Southern University rivalry is a college football rivalry between the Jackson State University Tigers and Southern University Jaguars. An annual conference game between two historically black universities in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, its location usually rotates between JSU's Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium and SU's A. W. Mumford Stadium, but it has also been held at larger venues to accommodate the crowds that the game draws. As of 2018, the Jaguars lead the series 33–29.

Sonic Boom of the South

The Sonic Boom of the South is the marching band of Jackson State University (JSU) located in Jackson, Mississippi.

Jackson State Tigers football

The Jackson State Tigers are the college football team representing the Jackson State University. The Tigers play in NCAA Division I Football Championship as a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Texas Southern Tigers football

The Texas Southern Tigers is the college football team representing Texas Southern University, a historically black university (HBCU) in Houston. The Tigers play in the NCAA's Division I FCS as a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), a conference whose members are all HBCUs. In 2012, the Tigers moved into the new BBVA Compass Stadium, built for the city's Major League Soccer team, the Houston Dynamo. It replaced the Alexander Durley Sports Complex as the home of Tiger football. On December 3, 2015, Houston native Michael Haywood was hired as the Tigers' 16th all-time head coach.

Southern Heritage Classic

The Southern Heritage Classic presented by FedEx is an annual historically black college football game between the Tigers of Jackson State University and the Tigers of Tennessee State University since 1990. The game is broadcast on FOX Sports Southeast.

M. Christopher Brown II American university executive

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Jackson State Lady Tigers basketball womens college basketball team

The Jackson State Lady Tigers basketball team is the women's basketball team that represents Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. They play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).

2016–17 Jackson State Tigers basketball team

The 2016–17 Jackson State Tigers basketball team represented Jackson State University during the 2016–17 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The Tigers, led by fourth-year head coach Wayne Brent, played their home games at the Williams Assembly Center in Jackson, Mississippi as members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. They finished the season 14–18, 10–8 in SWAC play to finish in a four-way tie for third place. As the No. 6 seed in the SWAC Tournament, they lost to Southern in the quarterfinals.

Robert L. Braddy Sr. is an American college baseball coach who spent 27 years as the coach for Jackson State University.

Robert E. "Judge" Hughes was an American NFL football player for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons who was head football coach of the Jackson State University Tigers from 1999 to 2002.

John Peoples was the president of Jackson State University from 1967 to 1984.


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