University Archives header Timeline of Black History at VT
Black History at VT: Black History Timeline First Black Grads Black Women Oral Histories

Timeline | pre 1950 | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s


First Black Students Receive Advanced Degrees:

Camilla Anita Brooks
Mattews, Virginia, M.S. Statistics, 1970

Franklin Mckie
Augusta, Georigia, M.S. Statistics, 1970

Dr. Alphonso Smith
Ph.D. Fisheries and Wildlife, 1971

James Whitehurst is the first black appointed to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

John Dobbins (Distributive Education, class of 1974): First black scholarship football player in Virginia Tech's history. In three seasons, Dobbins rushed for 705 yards and scored three touchdowns. He played mostly as a starting fullback. A star running back at Radford High School, Dobbins was part of the second class of black students to attend Radford High. He now works as a supervisor at Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp. in Dublin.

Read more about John Dobbins in the article "Sports Helped Ease Integration" from the Roanoke Times.

Houston Conley was hired as Associate Professor in the College of Education.


Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.: Theta Iota Chapter founded by nine black men on January 29, 1973

Cheryl Butler (McDonald) is among the first group of women to enter the Corps of Cadets. The women formed the "L" Squadron. Cheryl was 2nd Commander her first year in the Corps and Commander of the "L" Squadron in 1974, her second year.

Diane Epps (class of 1976) was the first black player on the Virginia Tech Girls' Varsity Basketball Team. Her first year with the team (1973-74) was the team's second season and its first winning season. Diane was on the team her sophomore and junior years and was an assistant coach her senior year. She graduated with a degree in biology.

Rhonda Miller (Rogers): First black secretary. She was a secretary in Student Programs in the Division of Students Affairs. She is now Administrative Assistant, Residential and Dining Programs.


Cheryl Butler: "L" Squadron Commander in the Corps of Cadets.

Ella Louise Bates was hired on the faculty of Housing, Design and Resource Management in September. She left Tech in August 1979.

Johnnie Mae Miles was hired by the College of Education on a full-time tenure track, teaching position in the Division of Administrative & Educational Services.

Leroy Miles was hired as teaching faculty in the College of Education in the Division of Administrative & Educational Services and in Adult & Continuing Education.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.: the Theta Phi chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded at Virginia Tech on May 5, 1974.

James F. Tucker starts his term on the Board of Visitors.


Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.: The Mu Alpha Chapter was founded by nine black women at Virginia Tech on April 12, 1975.

From July to December Dr. Overton Johnson acted as Dean of the Agricultural College and thus became the first black dean at Tech. In 1981 he was named associate director of the university's Office of Institutional Research and Special Assistant to the President. Dr. Johnson died in 1982.

Michele Clark: first black placement counselor in the Division of Student Affairs.

Phil Rogers was the first black quarterback to lead the Virginia Tech Hokies.


Sixty black freshmen.

Frankie Allen: first black assistant coach at Virginia Tech.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.: The Theta Psi Chapter was chartered at Virginia Tech in April 1977.

Sharon Hunter: Homecoming Queen candidate from the Human Relations Council.

Rhonda Bouldin: Homecoming Court Attendant candidate for Human Relations Council

Black woman cheerleader on the squad.


One hundred sixty-five black freshmen.

Black Student Alliance

Gospel Experience: a black choir founded on Tech's campus, composed of Tech students and some members of the community. They traveled throughout the state giving concerts and each year sponsored a Black Gospel Festival.

Melanie Pearson (class of 1981) was first black Military Ball Queen at Virginia Tech. As the Military Ball Queen, she was the first black female to represent Virginia Tech at the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Virginia.


Sandy Berry Copeland: First black scholarship athlete in women's basketball.

In his freshman year (1978-79), Dale Solomon sparked the Tech basketball team to win the Metro Conference Tournament championship and was named the tournament's most valuable player. He became the first player ever to make the All-Metro Conference first team four years in a row. In 1990, Solomon was chosen to the Metro Conference Decade team of the 1980s. Solomon tallied a career total of 2,136 points and ranks third behind Bimbo Coles and Dell Curry on the Hokies' all-time scoring list. He began playing in Italy in 1982 and is one of the most popular men in the league. He resides in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He was inducted in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

Melanie Pearson: Homecoming Queen candidate from the BSA.

Stephanie Turner: Freshman Attendant candidate from the BSA.

The Eta Lambda Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., was founded on September 22, 1979 by D. K. Brockett, Barry Griffin, Stan Harris, Peter Holmes, Rick Monroe, Larry Fallen, Dennis Scott, and Wayne Robinson.

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