Demonstrating Black excellence: 7 notable CSU alumni


Collegian | Trin Bonner

Rebekah Barry, Staff Reporter

Colorado State University has had several notable graduates. They are a part of school history and go on to accomplish great things in the world. During Black History Month, it’s important to recognize former Black students who continue to make history.

Here are seven notable graduates who demonstrate Black excellence and have accomplished an array of different goals and achievements. Their stories of inspiration encourage others to continue to work toward their own goals.  


1. Leslie Jones

Although Leslie Jones did not graduate from CSU, the university was her last stop before her rise to fame. Since her time as a student, she has become one of the most notable comedians in the United States. During her time at CSU, she entered a comedy contest and won “Funniest Person on Campus.”

Jones came to CSU for basketball, playing as a redshirt 1986-87. She found peace and happiness in comedy and has continued on that path ever since, appearing on shows like Saturday Night Live 2014-19. Leslie also has a podcast with Lenny Marcus called “The fckry,” which premiered Aug. 11, 2022, on Earwolf. It is now available on most platforms.

2. John Amos

John Amos is an avid activist and American actor who graduated from CSU with a degree in sociology. Before acting, he played football for the CSU Rams and was a Golden Gloves boxing champion. Some of the most well-known titles he starred in include “Good Times,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The West Wing” and “Coming to America.”  

3. Shaquil Barrett

Shaquil Barrett transferred to CSU to continue his path in playing football 2011-13. After graduating, he was drafted by the Denver Broncos as a free agent in 2014. Barrett was with the Broncos when they won Super Bowl 50 before signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. His latest big win was Super Bowl 55 in 2021.

4. Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa is a poet and writer. He graduated from CSU in 1978 with a Master of Arts in creative writing. He won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1994. He won the 2007 Louisiana Writer Award for his continued contribution to poetry. He also received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and currently teaches at New York University as a professor of English.  

5. Stanton Kidd

Stanton Kidd is a professional basketball player. He played college basketball for three colleges, including CSU 2014-15, before he continued to play professionally in Belgium, Germany and the NBA. He graduated from CSU with a degree in liberal arts and a minor in sociology. He played for the Lokomotiv Kuban of the VTB United League in Russia. He left the team due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

6. Paula Hicks-Hudson

Paula Hicks-Hudson is currently an Ohio state senator. She graduated from CSU in 1975 with a master’s degree in communications development. She served as an Ohio state representative 2019-2022. She was formerly the mayor of Toledo, Ohio, 2015-18.

7. Grafton St. Clair Norman

Grafton St. Clair Norman was the first Black person to graduate from CSU. He was actively involved in many activities, including ROTC, Science Club and the Columbian Literary Society. During his spring semester in 1895, he suffered from typhoid fever. He took time off from his studies to recover and eventually went on to graduate with a degree in mathematics and engineering in 1896.

These CSU alumni are just a handful of those who continue to inspire others through their work, their strength and the example they set for the public eye.


Reach Rebekah Barry at or on Twitter @csucollegian.