African American Public Relations Corporation

Exalting a positive image of African Americans

Saturday, August 14, 2010

First Black Graduate of Virginia Tech

First black graduate of Virginia Tech dies
By Tonia Moxley The Roanoke Times

Charlie Yates, who in 1958 became the first black man to graduate from Virginia Tech, died today.

Yates, originally from Norfolk, was the first African American to earn a degree at a historically white university in the former Confederacy, according to Tech history professor Peter Wallenstein.

The Peddrew-Yates residence hall on Tech's campus is named for Yates and Irving L. Peddrew III, the first black student admitted to Tech. The isolation of Jim Crow racism on campus and in Blacksburg drove Peddrew to leave the university before finishing his degree.

Neither Yates nor Peddrew were allowed to live or socialize on campus.

After graduating with honors in mechanical engineering, Yates earned a master's degree from Cal Tech and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins, according to Wallenstein.

Yates did two stints as a professor at Tech, one teaching mechanical engineering for four years beginning in 1979. He served a term on the board of visitors and returned to the university as a professor in 1987.


Post a Comment

<< Home