First Black Student Body President Elected at Yale

A student from Yale University has made history after his classmates elected him to be the first Black student body president.Kahlil Greene, who is a junior at the Ivy League school, was elected president of the Yale College Council (YCC) by his classmates in April, FOX 5 DC reported. Greene, an economics major, said that he had been involved with the college council for a year and decided to run.

“I wanted to kind of amplify the voices of the underserved communities on campus, especially students of color,” Greene told the news station on May 29. “So, being the first Black president, I feel like I’m in a position where I can really do that.” When asked if he feels pressure about being the first Black student body president, Greene said the title “symbolizes the progress the university has made over the years for the journey we still have ahead of us.”

“I think that we can be a more diverse and inclusive campus, and I’m grateful for the role I’ll have in making it happen,” he told the news station. Greene also paid his respects to Edward Bouchet, who is recognized as the first African American to earn a PhD from an American university. Bouchet received his doctorate in physics in 1876 at Yale, according to the Connecticut History website.

In an April interview with the Yale Daily News, the university’s student newspaper, Greene said he wanted to implement a “4x4 Policy Plan” which would create a safer and healthier campus culture by sponsoring student organizations and groups as well as their activities. “This year’s YCC knows how to get things done, but it hasn’t been the voice of the undergraduate community,” he told the publication at the time. “What the students are thinking and doing is the final frontier that we need to hone in on.” The junior also serves as the treasurer of the Yale Black Men’s Union, according to the Yale Daily News.

Greene told FOX 5 DC that he is still exploring his career options, and is considering pursuing law or business school once he graduates. He also said he is thinking about a possible future in politics. “I think any goal is achievable,” he told the news station. “You don’t necessarily grow up thinking you’re going to be the first person to do anything in this world, but if you work hard and you dream big, it can and will happen.”The North Star reached out to Yale University for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Another student made history this year by becoming the first Black valedictorian at his Texas high school. Kellin McGown graduated with a 4.57 GPA from St. Thomas High School in Houston. In a previous interview with KHOU, Kellin said he was surprised when he learned he was going to represent the class of 2019 as its valedictorian. He is the first Black valedictorian in the school’s 119-year history. “It’s crazy to think about how, after 119 years, I’m the first African American valedictorian,” he previously told the news station. “It’s surprising but I’m glad these barriers are being broken.”

In May, Humboldt State University (HSU) announced that the California State University Board of Trustees had appointed Dr. Tom Jackson Jr. as the university's first African American president. Jackson will replace Lisa Rossbacher after she retires in June after serving five years at the university, according to a statement from the university. Jackson will serve as the university’s eighth president and was previously the president of Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. In a statement, Jackson said he was looking forward to his new position and working with the university’s staff members.

“A degree from HSU can lift the life of the person earning it as well as the lives of their family, and those degree holders drive the success of the entire North Coast,” Jackson said. “I welcome the opportunity to work with HSU’s talented faculty and staff, alongside community members, to ensure that those life-altering opportunities are expanded for current and future students.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.