Texas A&M University enrolled its first students in 1876. At that time and for the next 88 years, African Americans were not permitted to enroll. Today, less than 4 percent of the 40,000-member student body is Black.
Originally all students at Texas A&M were military cadets. Now there are about 2,200 members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. The cadets must undergo a Reserve Officer Training Corps program. About 42 percent of the Corps of Cadets receive a commission in the U.S. military upon graduation from Texas A&M. The university produces more military officers than any educational institution in the country other than the U.S. service academies.
Now for the first time in the history of the Corps of Cadets, an African American has been selected as commander. Marquis Alexander is the oldest of 10 children and the first in his family to enroll in college. A native of Houston, he applied to A&M in 2007, but when he did not promptly receive a letter of acceptance, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve. The letter of acceptance did finally arrive but Alexander honored his commitment to the Marines. While still serving in the reserves, he enrolled at Texas A&M in 2009. He is the first commander of the Corps of Cadets who has actual prior experience in the U.S. military.
Alexander is a rising senior majoring in international studies. He will assume command on the Corps on May 5.
Here is a video showing Alexander discussing his appointment.