National Black Graduate Student Association

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National Black Graduate Student Association (NBGSA)[1] is the nation’s largest interdisciplinary graduate organization for students of African descent. The association was established to address the needs and concerns of black graduate and professional students, and to encourage black undergraduates to pursue advanced degrees. NBGSA provides critical resources for ensuring the academic success of African American students and aids in developing a powerful network of emerging black scholars who can continue to diversify the academy and enrich the larger community.[1]

The National Black Graduate Student Association (NBGSA) is a 501(C)(3) non-profit association that is managed by its members. NBGSA is recognized as the primary student organization addressing the needs of Black graduate students. NBGSA offers its members leadership training, professional development, mentoring opportunities, career placement services and more!. The national headquarters is located at Howard University in Washington, D.C.



In May 1989, Robert M. Sellers, Todd C. Shaw, Robert Brown, Daria Kirby, Lisa Brown, and Thomas LaVeist, graduate students at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor planned and hosted a national conference to “address some of the issues that the African American community faced.” Sellers, the planning committee chairperson stated that the National Black Graduate Student Conference (NBGSC) was designed to “provide an opportunity for African American graduate students to develop professionally as well as serve as a forum for future researchers and professionals.” The first NBGSC, Social Science Research on Black America allowed black graduate students from across the country to participate in paper presentations, professional workshops, and roundtable discussions dealing with critical issues relating to the professional development of African American students and the black community. The conference had attendees from over twenty-five universities, including the University of Kentucky, Howard University, Northern Illinois University, Case Western Reserve University, and Texas A&M University.[2]

With the help of the Office of Minority Affairs at the University of Michigan, the conference planning committee was able to host a successful three-day event. James S. Jackson, Associate Dean and Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan credited the black graduate students with contributing to the university’s commitment to the “value of diversity in intellectual inquiry and teaching.” Dr. Jackson acknowledged that the “overwhelming response and involvement of graduate students across the country is a testament to the need and importance of this meeting.” As result of the NBGSC, the conference attendees decided to create a national organization that would address the many issues concerning black graduates that were given attention during the meeting.[3] The National Black Graduate Student Association (NBGSA) was established at the end of the national conference in 1989. Todd C. Shaw, Doctoral Student at the University of Michigan was elected the first national president. His executive board consisted of Jacqueline M. Davis, graduate student at Mississippi State University as Vice-President, Donna Cochran, graduate student at the University of Michigan as Recording Secretary, Barbara Gates, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Michigan as Corresponding Secretary, and Minora Sharpe, graduate student at Pennsylvania State University as Treasurer.

At the second annual conference, Global Perspective on Black Cultures that was held at Mississippi State University, the attendees voted to incorporate NBGSA in the state of Mississippi. Dr. Phyllis Gray-Ray, Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at the institution, served as the first National Advisory Chair and the first Executive Director of NBGSA. Mississippi State University became NBGSA's home in 1994, and the association remained in that location until 1997.

Early years[edit]

NBGSA in its early years followed the career of Dr. Gray-Ray. In 1997, she accepted a position at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. The Executive Council agreed to temporarily move the national headquarters to North Carolina. Several years later, Dr. Gray-Ray took another position at Jackson State University and the association relocated its national office back to Mississippi. Upon arriving at Jackson State University, Dr. Gray-Ray resigned from her position with NBGSA. The Executive Council presented Dr. Gray-Ray with the title of Executive Director Emeritus in 2000, at the national conference held at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Also, in 1999, NBGSA found a permanent home at Howard University's Graduate School in Washington, D.C.


NBGSA is dedicated to:

  1. Encouraging undergraduates of African descent to pursuing graduate studies, while helping current black graduate and professional students finish their degrees.
  2. Providing tools that will aid black graduates and professionals in their studies.
  3. Creating a network of scholars of African descent who are dedicated to serving the larger black community.

Past Presidents[edit]

Founding President
Todd C. Shaw, Ph.D.
University of Michigan

Jacqueline M. Davis-Gines, Ph.D
Mississippi State University

James Robinson
University of California-Berkeley

Thomas Stewart, Ph.D.
Howard University

Marwin Spiller, Ph.D.
University of Illinois

Sharron Y. Herron, Ph.D.
Mississippi State University

Kevin McPherson, Ph.D.
University of Oklahoma

Shannon Marquez, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Kevin Michael Foster, Ph.D.
University of Texas, Austin

Charmaine N. Jackson Mercer, Ph.D.
Claremont Graduate University

Kimberly R. Moffitt, Ph.D.
Howard University

Tessa Johnson, MA
Northern Illinois University

Adrienne D. Dixson, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Tamara Bertrand Jones, Ph.D.
Florida State University

Marla J. Mitchell, M.Ed.
Miami University (Ohio)

Kaye Thompson-Rogers, Ph.D.
Jackson State University

Ivan B. Turnispeed, Ph.D.
University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Nameka R. Bates, MS
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tina L. Ligon, MA, MLS.
University of Maryland College Park

Antonio White, MA
Morgan State University

Lauren Williams, MPA
Clark Atlanta University

Anta Sane, MBA, MSL
Howard University

"'John Nwosu"', M.Ed
Georgia Southern University

Past National Conferences[edit]

Social Science Research on Black America
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
May 25–28, 1989

Global Perspective on Black Cultures
2nd Annual NBGSC
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, Mississippi
May 17–20, 1990

Research and Service: Black Intellectual Activism on the Horizon of the Twenty First Century
3rd Annual NBGSC
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California
May 30-June 2, 1991

The Research Problem: Black Scholarly Activism on the Horizon of the 21st Century
4th Annual NBGSC
Howard University
Washington, D.C.
May 21–24, 1992

Cultivating a Vision: The Black Community in the Midst of Global Change
5th Annual NBGSC
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
May 27–30, 1993

Promoting the African Diaspora through Education
6th Annual NBGSC
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, Mississippi
May 18–22, 1994

From Many, One: People of the African Diaspora
7th Annual NBGSC
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida
May 24–28, 1995

Bridging the Gap between Academia and the African Community
8th Annual NBGSC
Claremont Graduate University
Claremont, California

Making our Future by the Best Use of Our Present
9th Annual NBGSC
Alliance of Black Graduate and Professional Students of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in collaboration with the North Carolina Triangle Area Black Graduate Student Alliance
North Carolina
May 21–25, 1997

The Future of Diversity in Higher Education
10th Annual NBGSC
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas
May 27–30, 1998

Expanding Our Ranks: Black Scholars in the New Millennium
11th Annual NBGSC
Baton Rouge Hilton
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
May 26–30, 1999

Facing the Challenge: Black Leadership 2000 and Beyond
12th Annual NBGSC
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, Wisconsin
March 29–April 1, 2000

Building the Vision Black Scholars in the World of Education and Beyond
13th Annual NBGSC
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, Texas
March 28–April 1, 2001

Black Scholars: Connecting Community and Scholarship
14th Annual NBGSC
Howard University
Washington, D.C.
March 27–31, 2002

Celebrating 15 Years of the NBGSC: Making a Difference in the Community through Leadership, Scholarship and Service
15th Annual NBGSC
Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown
Atlanta, Georgia
March 19–23, 2003

Higher Education in Changing Times
16th Annual NBGSC
Kingsgate Marriott Conference Hotel at the University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio
March 24–28, 2004

Mission Possible: Taking Back the Black Community
17th Annual NBGSC
Hilton Charlotte Center City
Charlotte, North Carolina
March 16–20, 2005

Positively 'Facing the Rising Sun'
18th Annual NBGSC
Alexis Park Resort Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
March 15–19, 2006

Heirs of the Dream: Building on a Tradition of Intellectual Excellence
19th Annual NBGSC
Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland
March 21–25, 2007

Brilliance in Black
20th Annual NBGSC
Four Points Sheraton at O’Hare
Chicago, Illinois
March 12–16, 2008

Empowered. Engaged. Expect It!
21st Annual NBGSC
Doubletree Hotel Houston Downtown
Houston, Texas
March 11–15, 2009

Pioneering the Change Within
22nd Annual NBGSC
Hilton Del Mar
San Diego, California
March 10–14, 2010

Transforming Roads Ahead
23rd Annual NBGSC
Radisson Hotel Columbia and Conference Center
Columbia, South Carolina
March 9–13, 2011

Claiming Your Place in Uncommon Spaces
24th Annual NBGSC
Radisson Hotel Valley Forge
Valley Forge, PA
March 14–17, 2012

Honoring The Past, Defining The Future
25th Annual NBGSC
The Henry Hotel - Autograph Collection
Dearborn, MI
March 6–10, 2013

Past Regional Conferences[edit]


Mobilizing the West: Achieving Success and Making a Difference!
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
August 1–3, 2004


Continuing the Dream of Intellectual Excellence
Norfolk State University
Norfolk, Virginia
October 27–28, 2006

Putting the Dream Together
Howard University
Washington, D. C.
November 3–4, 2006

Birthrights and Blueprints: Black Intellectualism in the American West
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
November 17–18, 2006

Growing with NBGSA
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois
December 1–3, 2006


Fulfilling the Legacy of Black Achievements
University of Maryland College Park
College Park, Maryland
September 21–23, 2007

Revitalizing the Black Intellectual Movement
Marriott at Research Triangle Park
Durham, North Carolina
November 11–13, 2007

Establishing the Vision for the Future
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana
November 30-December 2, 2007

Reflection of Black Renaissance: Continuing their Legacy
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena, California
December 7–9, 2007


Yes We Can: Decreasing the Disparity of Blacks in Academia
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Mankato, Minnesota
September 26–27, 2008

His Dream, His Legacy, Our Destiny
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
October 3–5, 2008

The Fierce Urgency of Now: Black Scholars in a Rapidly Changing World
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
November 14–16, 2008


B.R.I.D.G.E. Building Relationships by Instilling Diversity in Graduate Education
Jackson State University
Jackson, Mississippi
October 1–3, 2009

A Community of Scholars: Re-Establishing Purpose Remembering our Identities, Re-Stating our Commitments
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois
October 2–3, 2009

Still We Rise: Only through Sharing History can You Empower Yourself
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
October 16–18, 2009

The Power of Definition: Navigating from Invisible Places to Visible Spaces
Morgan State University
Baltimore, Maryland
October 16–17, 2009

Metamorphosis: Changing Yourself by Changing Your Motives
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
November 13–15, 2009


Finding the Perfect Fit: Keys to Unlocking Self-Potential" Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, Mississippi
October 1–2, 2010

Empowering and Integrating Black Scholars: Looking Back, Reaching Out, Moving Forward in Institutions of Higher Learning
University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon
October 8–10, 2010

Engagement, Consciousness and Pride: Leadership in the Pan African Community
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio
November 2010

Contact Information[edit]

National Black Graduate Student Association, Inc.
MSC 590507
Washington, D.C., 20059
Tel/Fax: (800) 471-4102


  1. ^ The papers dealing with NBGSA are held in its national headquarters at Howard University.
  2. ^ Letter to Conference Attendees, May 25, 1989 by Robert M. Sellers
  3. ^ Letter to Conference Attendees by James S. Jackson, May 1989