New Website Documents the History of Blacks at Penn State

Calvin H. Waller was born in Macon, Georgia. He came to Pennsylvania State University in 1899 to learn how to be a successful farmer. He earned his degree in 1905 as Penn State’s first black graduate. Penn State’s vaunted intercollegiate football program began in 1887. But no black player donned a Penn State uniform until 1945.

Today there are more than 4,600 African Americans enrolled at Pennsylvania State University campuses around the state. But at the flagship campus near State College blacks are only 4 percent of the student body. And this is in a state where African Americans make up about 10 percent of the college-age population. Race relations on the flagship campus often have been strained. (See “Blacks Are Unhappy in Happy Valley,” JBHE, Number 32, page 20.)

Now in an effort to educate the university community about the significant contributions made by African Americans at Penn State, Darryl Daisey of the Class of 1983 has researched and written Penn State University African-American Chronicles, 1899-2008. The report forms the cornerstone of a new website documenting the history of blacks at Penn State.

Daisey hopes the new website will inspire current African-American students, serve as a recruiting tool for prospective black students, and reinstill or reinforce a sense of pride among black alumni of the institution.