Bison Brothers: 10 Notable Men Who Attended Howard University
Howard University has groomed some of the best female talent in acting, literature and for the world stage, and the school has also had the same success when it comes to their male students. These 10 prominent men have studied in the school’s classrooms (and cut a rug at the Homecoming festivities…) and have gone on to do amazing things.
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs
Diddy has called himself many names over the years, but each version of himself has always been proud to hype up the time he spent at the famed HBCU. He was majoring in Business when he dropped out in 1989, but has given back to the school in various ways. He was part of the Howard Homecoming in 1995 alongside the Notorious B.I.G., he keeps close ties with current students and even offered support as students protested over housing and financial aid packages in 2009.
The legendary actor and civil rights activist attended Howard through the wishes of his parents, but dropped out in 1939 to pursue his love of acting. He went on to achieve not only fame, but walk in the trenches alongside Malcolm X and Dr. Martin King, Jr. His success on and off screen more than earned him an honorary degree from Howard, a Doctor of Humanities, on May 12,1973.
Laz’s parents always stressed the importance of an education for the budding actor, and he heeded their words by enrolling in the Washington, D.C. based school. He had a love for acting, but decided to major in business administration with a minor in marketing and graduated with a BBA. He worked for a while as an investment banker, but the acting bug finally bit him for good. By 2009, he was one of Variety’s Top Ten Actors to watch.
Marshall made history as the first African American judge to sit on the Supreme Court and argued more cases before than court than any previous lawyer. One of the most prominent cases he took on before his appointment was as the NAACP’s chief counsel in the Brown vs. The Board of Education which the declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The beginnings of his prominence began at Howard University School of Law, where he graduated first in his class in 1933.
The funny man who has starred in such films as Big Momma’s House and Barbershop and just got another TV show under his belt with “Guys With Kids,” honed his craft at the HBCU. He earned an arts scholarship to Howard after a performance of a classic monologue from “The Great White Hope.” He has spoken on many occasions about the creative energy that flowed on the campus and the importance of black colleges.
Carl Anthony Payne II
Payne was a scene stealer on the “Cosby Show” as Cockroach and brought the laughs on “Martin” as Cole Brown. His comedic timing was nourished by his time spent at Howard. He went there worried that it could possibly be a militant school but has said that he gained more respect for his culture and people during his time at the HBCU.
Rep. Elijah Cummings
The congressman shaped the beginnings of his public servant career when he attended Howard. He was sophomore class president for the student government, a treasurer and later president. He became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Earlier this year, Cummings returned to his alma mater as the keynote speaker as he addressed Medical and Policy Issues Surrounding U.S. Health Care.
The R&B Artist actually studied agriculture and not music when he attended the university of one of his idols, Donny Hathaway. However, after his graduation, he formed the group Maniquin in 1989. It would be a few more years before he found the breakthrough success he longed for, but the HBCU allowed him to start planting the seeds.
In recent years, controversies have engulfed Washington after his firing from “Grey’s Anatomy,” but his talent as an actor is hard for anyone to deny. He spent four years in the Air Force before enrolling at Howard to study drama. He won a role in the play “Spell #7” while still in school and he returned in 2011 to host a discussion and a signing of his book, “A Man from Another Land.”
The former mayor of New York City and only African American to hold that distinction graduated from Howard magna cum laude with a B.A. in mathematics in 1950. He chose to attend the HBCU following his service to the country after briefly fighting in World War II.
Stephanie Guerilus is a multimedia journalist and author. Follow her @qsteph
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