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Rep. Elissa Slotkin Honors One of the Nation’s First African-American Student-Athletes

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On April 14, 2023, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-7) presented The University of Olivet with a framed copy of the February 27, 2023 Congressional Record, which paid tribute to Hiram Archer, the first student of color to graduate from the college in 1894. Rep. Slotkin also spent time taking questions from students on various topics, including gun violence, her commitment to public service and future career plans.

Archer attended Olivet from 1888 through 1895. After earning an undergraduate degree in science, he remained at the college and earned a master’s degree in science. Archer also played on the school’s varsity baseball team, making him one of the first 10 Black athletes in the nation to play intercollegiate sports.

After leaving Olivet, Archer earned his doctorate. He went on to serve as director of science and assistant principal at the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Normal, Alabama, which is today known as Alabama A & M University. He finished his career with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. as a nationally recognized scientist.

Rep. Slotkin said, “I gave this speech, the exact speech that is documented here, this is an official document in the Congressional Record of the People’s House of the United States of America. So forever on, Olivet students can Google and look up this historical record of Hiram Archer and can read the description that I read on the House floor. This is also for students who aren’t even born yet, ready to follow in your footsteps in doing great things. It was an honor to represent Hiram on the floor of the House and etch him into the history of the United States of America.”

In accepting the framed Congressional Record, The University of Olivet President Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., said, “We at Olivet recognize the symbolism and the significance of what Hiram was able to do at a time when so many were unable. I am so proud to be here as an ongoing steward, and I hope you feel the same way as members of the The University of Olivet community who are part of this legacy and finding ways to keep it alive today.”

Archer remains a central figure to students of The University of Olivet through the Hiram Archer Student Success Academy (HASSA). The organization supports students of color in their academic, cultural, personal, social and spiritual development through excursions, service projects, leadership development and other opportunities for growth and connection.

Senior Destinee Hawkins, president of HASSA, facilitated the question/answer session with Slotkin. “Having Congresswoman Slotkin on campus to honor Hiram Archer was emotional and a dream come true. Some information was uncovered that was unknown to me, and I am thankful that Congresswoman Slotkin and her team took the time to research and honor him. What Hiram Archer accomplished was monumental for African Americans and the history of the United States. It gives students like me inspiration. I am honored to have led a student organization that represents the legacy of Hiram Archer,” Destinee said.

Julianna Carter ’18 was instrumental in reaching the history of Hiram Archer and other students of color who attended the college early in its history. Julianna, a chemistry major, served as a student worker at the The University of Olivet Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives. She is one example of how students at The University of Olivet have opportunities to get involved in areas outside of their major based on personal interests. The opportunity to do hands-on, in-depth research at an archive as a student worker is unique, thanks to the immersive learning experience at Olivet.

Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at admissions@uolivet.edu or 800-456-7189.

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