For Black History Month, The Daily Tar Heel is recognizing some notable Black alumni for their distinguished contributions and accomplishments.
Nikole Hannah-Jones 2001-2003
Investigative journalist and MacArthur Genius Grant Recipient, Nikole Hannah-Jones graduated with a master’s degree from UNC in 2003. She started her career as an education reporter for the Raleigh News and Observer. In 2015, she became a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine where she reported on segregation issues in schools. She also co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which aims to increase and retain reporters of color. Jones’ reporting has earned her the Peabody Award, George Polk Award, National Magazine Award, Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service and the Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting.
Arguably Carolina basketball’s most famous alum, Michael Jeffrey Jordan played for the Tar Heels from 1982 to 1984 under head coach Dean Smith. Jordan won the 1982 NCAA National Championship with UNC and earned a place on the NCAA All-American First team in his sophomore and junior seasons before declaring for the 1984 NBA draft. Jordan was drafted as the third overall pick by the Chicago Bulls and was quickly recognized as an aspiring young talent. Over the course of his career, Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA Championships, putting up a record-breaking career average of 30.12 points per game in the regular season. Jordan is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, and he has worked to bring medical clinics to low-income areas of Charlotte. This $7 million donation is one of the largest gifts contributed by a North Carolina basketball legend.
Renowned sportscaster Stuart Orlando Scott graduated from UNC in 1987 with a B.A. in Radio, Television and Motion Pictures. At UNC, Scott was a wide-receiver and defensive back for the football team, as well as a DJ with the student radio station WXYC. Scott rose to notoriety in the sports world when he joined ESPN in 1993. Known for incorporating hip-hop culture into his announcing, Scott spoke with fiery passion during even the dullest of contests. In 2007, Scott was diagnosed with appendix cancer, but he continued to work as an announcer despite going through chemotherapy. In 2014, Scott was awarded the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for his perseverance in the face of illness. After a long fight with cancer, Stuart Scott died on Jan. 4, 2015.
Melody Barnes 1982-1986
Melody C. Barnes is a lawyer and former Obama administration official who graduated from UNC in 1986. After graduating from University of Michigan Law School in 1989, Barnes began her career as an attorney specializing in corporate finance-related suits. She began working in politics as a senior domestic policy adviser to President Barack Obama in 2008. Later, she served as assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Barnes now serves as CEO of the domestic strategy firm she co-founded, MB2 Solutions LLC, as well as chair of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, among other roles.
Julius Chambers 1959-1962
Lawyer and lifetime civil rights advocate Julius L. Chambers graduated from UNC School of Law in 1962. During his time at UNC, he was selected as the first African-American editor-in-chief of The North Carolina Law Review and graduated first in his class. During his long career as a civil rights attorney, he won many landmark cases including Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, which instituted a system to bus-in students of color from distant neighborhoods to integrate Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Chambers later succeeded Thurgood Marshall as president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Despite falling victim to bombings and incredible racial opposition, Chambers did not stop fighting for civil rights until his death in 2013.
LeRoy Frasier 1955-1958 (left)
LeRoy Frasier was one of the first African-American undergraduates to attend UNC after the University was integrated in 1955. He, along with his brother Ralph Frasier and friend John Lewis Brandon, filed a lawsuit against the UNC Board of Trustees after they were denied entry to the University. Frasier left UNC for the Peace Corps after his third year partly due to the hostility he faced at the school. Frasier later attended North Carolina Central University and then earned a master’s degree from New York University.He died on Dec. 29, 2017.
John Lewis Brandon 1955-1958 (middle)
One of the first African-American undergraduates admitted to UNC in 1955, John Lewis Brandon was a key figure in the University’s desegregation. A Durham native, Brandon went to high school with Leroy Frasier at the all-black Hillside High School. Brandon studied chemistry at UNC before he dropped out during his third year. He later finished his master’s in chemistry at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He died on Jan. 22, 2018.