Shaw graduations at commencement

Shaw University

Shaw University, is the first historically black university in the Southern United States. Shaw is a private liberal arts institution affiliated with the Baptist Church and among the oldest HBCUs in the nation. Founded in 1865, our university has a rich history steeped in tradition, activism and service. We were the first college in North Carolina to offer a four-year medical school; the first institution of higher learning established for freed men after the Civil War and the first historically Black College in the nation to open its doors to women.

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Shaw University has produced outstanding professionals who have contributed to the advancement of society. Our graduates include college presidents, academic vice presidents, judges, lawyers, recording artists, school principals, pastors, and other notable persons, such as:

  • Ella Baker (1927), civil rights activist & co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
  • Willie E. Gary (1971), multi-millionaire attorney, motivational speaker, businessman
  • James “Bonecrusher” Smith (1975), 1st heavyweight boxing champion to earn a college degree
  • Shirley Caesar (1984), Grammy Award-Winning Gospel singer
  • Shawn “CoCo” McMillan (1995), 2010 Stellar Award Winner

News and Events

Shaw University One of 12 UNCF-member HBCUs Selected to Participate in Walmart Foundation Grant Program
The $500,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation will provide funding and technical assistance to selected UNCF-member institutions. This grant will help these institutions with accreditation efforts and support a summer professional development conference geared toward institutional advancement. >> Read More

Let’s Celebrate Shaw University!

Come share the triumphant legacy of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as we celebrate Shaw University, the first HBCU in North Carolina and one of the oldest in the country, the iconic Estey Hall, and the contributions of its graduates who also helped found or serve as inaugural presidents and chancellors of several HBCUs.

We would be honored with your personal attendance, your alumni and your entire community for an HBCU focused celebration of triumph on Friday, December 1st! Enjoy dinner, HBCU honors, lifetime achievement awards, recognition of HBCU presidents and chancellors and live performances.

For more information on The HBCU Triumph Gala and the December 1st Triumph Project, go to

The HBCU Legacy – Triumph Project (

Shaw University Staff