#BlackHistoryMonth – Jesse Arnelle

For the month of February, the Underground will shine a spotlight on prominent figures in the black community.


A man established in numerous facets within his life, Jesse Arnelle is a man with accolades that speak volumes to his character. Succeeding as an athlete, scholar, and ambassador to Penn State, he focused on promoting the well-being of the minority community of the university.

Earning All – American honorable mentions on the football field, as well as on the basketball court, Arnelle’s athleticism was competitive and fierce. Arnelle ended his career with the Lions with 2,138 points. Amazingly, his record stood for 56 years. As the first Nittany Lion to play in both the NBA and with the Harlem Globetrotters, Arnelle undeniably showed his skill matched with his incredible effort.

Understanding the impact behind making a change for the minority community at a majority – white campus, Arnelle was elected as the first black student government president during his junior year. Progressively continuing his strive, he ended up graduating from the Dickinson School of Law in 1962, eventually becoming an Air Force Officer.

As a standout alumnus, Penn State awarded Arnelle with the first Alumni Association Award to which he denied in protest of the universities poor minority recruitment effort. Deciding to involve himself within the process, Arnelle become the first black person elected to Penn State’s Board of Trustees. In 1996, Arnelle was elected as the first African American Chair of Board of Trustees.


About Matthew Lamas (6 Articles)
Matthew is a Mexican American from Florida. With majors in Communication Arts and Sciences as well as Political Science, he seeks to foster diversity through awareness. When not advocating for equality he enjoys listening to Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, and other rap gods. Matthew may be found eating Mexican food, watching a new Netflix series, or engaging in controversial Facebook debates. Email him at Matthew@undergroundvoices.co

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