Celebrating Black Alumni

Feb. 17, 2014

Photo credit: Patrick McArdle/UANews

In honor of Black History Month, we are taking a moment to highlight some of the University of Arizona's black alumni who have distinguished themselves locally and nationally for their research, entrepreneurial work, service, advocacy and athleticism.

The list includes the first African Americans to first serve on important local and regional boards, social justice advocates, Olympic medalists, professional basketball players and artists whose work has been shown across the nation.

The Educators and Advocates

Elgie Mike Batteau earned a master's degree in education at the UA and later became the first African American to serve on the Pima Community College governing board and also the board of the Arizona Children's Home. She is considered the first African American student to graduate from the UA with a master's degree in teaching. The UA Elgie Mike Batteau Honor Society was founded in conjunction with African American Student Affairs in her memory.

Joyce Edline Holsey (left), who studied law at the UA, became the first African American woman admitted to the Arizona State Bar. Holsey continued to serve the Arizona community as a legal advocate for individuals from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. Hosley passed in 2006.

Rufus Glaspar is president of the Maricopa Community College System. Glaspar earned his doctorate degree in higher education with an emphasis in finance from the UA. He currently serves as the commitee co-chair for the Lumina Foundation on Education's "Getting AHEAD" Initiative.

Louis J. Delsarte is a painter, muralist, printmaker and illustrator who now serves as a faculty member at Morehouse College in Atlanta. For more than one decade, Delsarte's artwork has been shown in various cities across the U.S. Delsarte earned a master's degree from the College of Fine Arts

Brackette Williams, who earned her education degree from the UA in 1975, is an anthropologist and associate professor with the UA School of Anthropology. Williams also serves as the senior justice advocate for the Open Society Institute. She has taught at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In 1997, Williams earned the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.

Ernie McCray (below), who earned degrees in physical education and elementary education from the UA, is a longtime teacher and principal in San Diego who is now retired. While at the UA, he played for the basketball team. During that time, he was named the team's Most Valuable Player and would eventually become one of only six Wildcats ranked in the career top 20 in scoring and top 10 in rebounding. After his retirement from teaching, McCray continued his work in community theater and community activism.

The Public Servants

Dr. Pamela Ross (below), an associate professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, graduated from the UA's Center for Integrative Medicine Fellowship Program. Ross was among 150 physicians in the nation that U.S. President Barack Obama invited to the White House when he presented the "Doctors for Health Care Reform" and is a Distinguished Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Rubin Salter Jr. (left), a James E. Rogers College of Law graduate who had also studied political science at the UA, served as the lead attorney in Fisher vs. Lohr, the landmark school desegregation case in Tucson. Salter has served as chair of the Tucson Airport Authority and as a member of the National Bar Association, the Pima County Bar Association, the State Bar of Arizona and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. An award-winning lawyer, he is founder of the Law Office of Rubin Salter Jr. and has practiced in the District of Arizona and before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Business Leaders

Olden C. Lee, who earned his business degree from the UA, is founder of Lee Management Consulting Company. Lee is interim executive vice president of Starbucks Corp. and has also worked in executive and senior level positions for PepsiCo, Inc., Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken. While at the UA, Lee spent three years as a linebacker for the football team.

Daisy M. Jenkins (right), a UA law school graduate, is executive vice president and chief human resources officer for the Carondelet Health Network. Jenkins previously held positions at Raytheon Missile System in both Tucson and Wichita, Kan., and also Raytheon Commercial Electronics. She was named Tucson Woman of the Year in 2007, a Phenomenal Woman of the Year Award in 2008 by the UA Alumni Association's Black Alumni Club and, in 2009, was given the UA's Women Who Lead award. Jenkins has long been committed to corporate diversity and investing in economic development.

The Entertainers

Nicole Randall Johnson (Photo credit: Dana Patrick Photography)

Nicole Randall Johnson (above), who studied theatre arts, has held supporting roles in films that include "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Transformers" and also was a member of the cast of "MADtv," a popular sketch comedy television series. Johnson also has held roles on "Reno 911!" and "Andy Barker, P.I.," both television shows.

Tamika Sonja Lawrence (below) earned at Bachelor of Fine Art in musical theater. After graduating, Lawrence performed in Europe before settling in New York City, where she performed in "Matilda" and "Book of Mormon" on Broadway and "Rent" Off-Broadway. Lawrence also has appeared on television shows such as "Law and Order SVU," "Regis and Kelly," and "Late Night with David Letterman."


Harvey Mason Jr. (left), who took UA courses, is a six-time Grammy Award-winning American songwriter, record producer and movie producer. The former UA basektball player has since worked with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Britney Spears, Leona Lewis and the late Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross. Today, his son, Trey Mason, is a Wildcat. Trey Mason, a freshman who is studying business, is point guard with the men's basketball team and wears the same jersey as his father, number 44.
Adia Barnes, who earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and also completed coursework in African American studies and psychology, served as a color commentator on NBA-TV for the 2004 FIBA Women’s World Championships and has appeared on air with FOX Sports. Barnes is the director of playing and coaching development at the Seattle Academy, and has worked as a motivational speaker. In 2003, she formed Adia’s Dreams in Action, now the Adia Barnes Foundation, a foundation designed to support youth.
Kyra Lorraine Selman (below), who studied theatre arts at the UA, is a Los Angeles-based actor, producer and director. Selman has performed in "Rent" at The Hangar Theatre as played the parts of Belle in "Beauty and the Best" and Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" for other stage productions. She also took a supporting role in the film "Infected." Selman is featured in a new commercial for "Big Lots" (below, and wearing the bright pink top). In addition to working as a producer, she has been a featured performer as part of the "Standing Room Only: Variety Hour," a monthly variety show that spotlights Broadway and off Broadway singers. She is an admissions counselor at Relativity School in Los Angeles.

The Athletes

Derrick Williams, who was a student in the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Sciences, is a basketball player with the Sacramento Kings. Williams was the second overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2011 NBA Draft.

Robert "Big Bird" Elliott, who earned an undergraduate degree in accounting from the UA, was a three time academic and athletic All-American during his time playing for Arizona's basketball team. Known as one of the UA's most prominent players, Elliott led the Wildcats to a Western Athletic Conference championship and two NCAA tournament appearances. He would later earn his MBA from the UA and is a board member of the National Basketball Players Association.

Richard Jefferson, who majored in general studies during his time at the UA, is an American professional basketball player currently playing for the Utah Jazz, which is part of the National Basketball Association. Jefferson was also a member of the USA men's national basketball team at the 2003 Tournament of the Americas and a competitor in Athens during the 2004 Summer Olympics. The UA's Richard Jefferson Gymnasium is named in his honor after the 2001 NBA lottery pick donated $3.5 million as the lead gift for the facility. At the time, it was among the largest individual donations to the UA's athletic department.

Kenny Lofton, who earned his bachelor's degree from the College of Fine Arts, was among the UA student-athletes to make it to the Final Four during the 1988 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Lofton also played Major League Baseball as an outfielder. He was a six-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner. During his baseball career, Lofton played for several teams, including the Houston Astros, the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

Brigetta Barrett (below) took silver in the high jump at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. During her studies at the UA in theatre arts, Barrett was named the Pac-12 Woman of the Year in 2013. She also won three NCAA indoor high jump titles and two in the outdoor event. Additionally, Barrett was named a Bowerman finalist in 2012. Barrett earned her UA bachelor's degree in 2013.

Brigetta Barrett (Photo credit: Phil Noble/Reuters)

Channing Thomas Frye (left) is an American professional basketball player who now plays for the Phoenix Suns of the NBA. During his time at the UA, Frye was a general studies major. As a professional basketball player, he also has played for the New York Knicks and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Charles Salim Stoudamire, who earned a bachelor's degree in general studies from the UA in 2013, went on to play professional basketball with the Atlanta Hawks, the San Antonio Spurs and the Milwaukee Bucks. While at the UA, Stoudamire led the Wildcats to its 2005 Elite Eight appearance and, during the 2004-2005 season, was an AP Second Team All-American. That same year, he led the NCAA in 3-point percentage. 

Damon Stoudamire, who earned a bachelor's degree in media arts from the UA, was selected by the Toronto Raptors in the 1995 NBA draft. Stoudamire, who was named the 1995-1996 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, went on to play for the Portland Trail Blazers, the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs. He and Charles Salim Stoudamire are cousins.

Lance Briggs (right) studied regional development and sociology at the UA. Briggs went on to be drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection.

Jordan Hill, who majored in sociology, currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Hill was a pick in the 2009 NBA draft, selected the New York Knicks.

Sean Elliott led the Wildcats to the Final Four in his junior year. Elliott has since retired from professional basketball, having played for the Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs. During his professional career, Elliott was named a NBA champion in 1999, a NBA All-Star in 1993 and 1996 and, in 1989, earned the John R. Wooden Award.

Andre Iguodala plays professional basketball for the Golden State Warriors. Iguodala has been named to the All-Star game and the NBA All-Defensive team. In 2010, he was selected for the American men's basketball team at the FIBA World Championship and also competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics. He won the gold medal at both.

Would you like to make a suggestion for someone to be added to the list? Contact La Monica Everett-Haynes at leverett@email.arizona.edu.

For more UA 2014 Black History Month coverage, view: