Huey Jefferson Battle made Oklahoma history and broke down many barriers when he became the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in the state. He received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from OSU in 1954 (see photo of Battle with his wife Jimmie and daughter Sandra at the time).
Battle had already served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, during World War II, and had returned to Oklahoma to graduate from Langston University in 1947. He received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin.
Battle directed the division of agriculture at Langston University for a decade before starting a distinguished 23-year career at Virginia State University, where he founded the Bureau of Economic Research and Development and strengthened numerous international ties including links with colleges in East and West Africa.
Battle retired in 1985 as vice president of research and development at VSU. He died in 1991. His wife, Jimmie, also received her doctorate and retired in 1985 after serving several years as head of early childhood development at VSU.
Battle’s daughter, Sandra, and sons, Huey and Michael, attended their father’s posthumous induction ceremony into the OSU Diversity Hall of Fame on Oct. 12, 2017.
Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Historical Society