West Virginia State University is located right outside Charleston city limits. This staple to the community was founded in 1890 as the West Virginia Colored Institute to provide education of black citizens in agriculture and mechanical arts. In 1927, the Institution was accredited by the North Central Associations and soon became West Virginia State College. Over the next decades, WVSC became one of the leading public institutions of higher education for African Americans. Finally, in 2004, the WV Legislature approved WVSC’s transition to University status.
In addition to being West Virginia’s first HBCU, WVSU has several prominent graduates. One of the most recognizable names is Earl Lloyd.
If you haven’t heard of Earl Lloyd, you are not a basketball fan. Mr. Lloyd was a trailblazer in basketball. During his career at WVSU, 1947 -1950, he led the Yellow Jackets to two conference and tournament championships. Earl was named All-Conference for three years and named a two time All-American by the Pittsburgh Courier.
He was the first African American to play in the NBA in 1950 while playing for the Washington Capitols. Later in his career, Lloyd played for the Syracuse Nationals and became the first African American to win an NBA Championship. After he retired, Lloyd went on the become the first African American assistant coach in the NBA while coaching the Detroit Pistons.
Mr. Lloyd continued to break color barriers upon leaving the NBA. Lloyd was hired by Chrysler as the first African American executive of the Dodge division.
Earl’s life is celebrated in a documentary film, “The First To Do It.” You can find out more about his life by visiting the WVSU website.
Be sure to stop by campus and explore the history of the university. You will find beautiful architecture, statues, and green spaces. Enjoy a Yellow Jackets game. Visit the university bookstore. If you are lucky, you may have the opportunity to run into WVSU first female president, Dr. Nicole Pride. Go State!
Photos and video courtesy of West Virginia State University.