On this day in 1970, Clifton R. Wharton Jr. made history by becoming the president of Michigan State University, marking the first time an African-American led a predominantly white higher education institution in the 20th century. Additionally, the Harvard graduate made history as the first African-American to helm a Fortune 500 company.
His achievements extended into the political arena, serving as the deputy secretary of state during President Bill Clinton’s tenure. He became the first African-American to hold the second-highest position within the agency.
In 2015, he released his autobiography Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer. Clifton R. Wharton Jr. is now 97 years old.