Our History

SSUNAA Washington DC Chapter

In August 1957, Raymond Knight, James O. Thomas, Jr., and William N. Weston, graduates of Savannah State College, met to discuss organizing an alumni chapter in the District of Columbia. It was agreed that a meeting be held and all former students and graduates in the area would be invited to participate. The initial meeting was held in September with approximately 15 persons present in the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas. The group agreed to formally organize and submitted a request to the Savannah State College National Alumni Association for recognition. On November 10, 1957, Mr. Prince A Jackson, the general alumni secretary, formally installed the Washington DC Chapter, the first chapter installed outside the state of Georgia at the Galbraith A.M.E. Zion Church.

1957 Installation of Officers photo
SSUNAA Washington DC Chapter’s Installation of Officers Ceremony in 1957. Photo provided by W. Roberson.
Dr. Cheryl Davenport-Dozier (president of Savannah State University), poses with Mr. Raymond Knight (chapter founder), Mrs. Eloise Alston (early supporter), Mr. James O. Thomas (chapter founder), and Mrs. Zelmar Gordon (president of the SSUNAA Washington DC Chapter) during the chapter’s 60th-anniversary celebration banquet on October 13, 2017. Photo provided by A. Kent.

Savannah State University

Savannah State University is the oldest public historically black college or university in the state of Georgia and the oldest institution of higher learning in the city of Savannah. The school was established in 1890 as a result of the Second Morrill Land Grant Act, which mandated that southern and border states develop land-grant colleges for Black students. Later that year, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation creating the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth, which served as Georgia’s 1890 land-grant institution until 1947. a preliminary session of the institution was held in the Baxter Street School in Athens, Georgia, before moving to Savannah in October 1891. In 1928, the college became a four-year degree-granting institution, ending its high school and normal school programs.

Upon the creation of the University System of Georgia in 1932, the college became one of the first members of the system and its name was changed to Georgia State College. Its name changed again in 1950 to Savannah State College. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents elevated the college to university status in 1996, making the institution Savannah State University.

Savannah State University campus footage provided by Litus Marshall. Video used with permission

Read the full history of Savannah State University online at SavannahState.edu.