Alferdteen Brown Harrison built a prominent, decades-long career as an academic leader in history on a foundation laid at McPherson College.
Brown Harrison, a 1961 history graduate of McPherson College now living in Jackson, Miss., was recently honored for her career achievements with her induction to the University of Kansas Women’s Hall of Fame.
“It lifted my spirits for sure,” Brown Harrison said. “I had no idea that I would ever be considered for such an honor.”
Since 1970, the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity has selected a few outstanding women with a connection to the University of Kansas by inducting them to the Hall of Fame.
“These women are exemplary members of society in both overall impact and outstanding character,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, the center’s director. “Many inductees accomplished feats in their respective fields at times when it was practically unheard of for a female to make such progress. The influence of their numerous contributions and achievements is immeasurable, and these women serve as awe-inspiring role models.”
After her graduation from McPherson College, she received a master’s degree from Wichita State University. She later became the first African American to earn a doctorate in history from KU and helped to establish what, today, is the African and African American Studies department at KU.
She was also a professor of history and the director of the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center at Jackson State University. She also co-founded the first museum in Mississippi to focus on African Americans in the state – the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center. She is author of multiple books and continues as a prominent advocate for the documentation and preservation of African American History.
She has also returned to serve her alma mater at McPherson College in recent years in leadership roles on the college’s Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2011. McPherson College has been a lifelong influence on her, Brown Harrison said, because of her teachers’ mentorship and MC’s strong foundation in Christian ethics.
“I think that I had great role models there in all of my teachers, and it was a very nurturing environment,” Brown Harrison said. “McPherson College helped develop the moral compass for my life – a God-centered lifestyle.”