Alcorn State University was founded in 1871 as a solution of the efforts of Mississippi communities to educate the descendants of formerly enslaved Africans. It was named in honor of sitting governor of Mississippi, James L. Alcorn. Alcorn was became governor with help of many Mississippi African-American voters. Alcorn strongly supported public schools for all, although he was a former slaveholder, he characterized slavery as “a cancer upon the body of the nation” and expressed his gratification over its destruction. As a U.S. senator, Alcorn helped Hiram Revels become the first African American Senator to serve in the US Congress. Revels later became the first president of Alcorn State University, which was Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College at that time. Initially the institution’s three major study components were the four year college track, the two year track, and the three year graded track. The students spent the mornings from seven o’clock until noon in classes. In the afternoons they were able to work various campus jobs to earn money to pay for living expenses. Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College was exclusively for males at first. Eventually women were admitted and in 1902 a resident hall was built for the women students. In 1974, Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College became Alcorn State University. Alcorn State University continues to grow in size of acres, eager students and proud alumni.
Notable Alumni Include: American Football Player, Steve McNair; Oscar Nominated Actor, Michael Clarke Duncan; Author of the book “Roots: The Saga of an American Family” and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, Alex Haley; and civil rights activist of the Civil Rights Movement and journalist, Myrlie Evers-Williams