Skip to main content

William Hargraves II

Lifespan:  1932  –  2019


  • B.S., Education, 1954, Miami University
  • M.A., Physics, 1961, Miami University

Miami Employment:

  • Associate Professor, Aerospace Studies, 1971 – 1974


William Hargraves II was an African American student who attended Miami University from 1950 to 1954. Born on August 18th, 1932 to parents William Hargraves and Annie Leona Thomas Hargraves, William II was raised in Covington, Kentucky, where both of his parents taught at the Lincoln-Grant School, a segregated public K-12 school building for African American students consisting of both an elementary school, Lincoln School, and a high school, William Grant High School. William II worked a construction job during his teenage years and graduated as valedictorian of the William Grant High School in the spring of 1950 before enrolling at Miami University that fall.

At the time of his enrollment, the Hargraves family already shared a rich history with both Miami and the Oxford community as a whole. William II’s grandparents Hammond Arthur Hargraves and Anna Langford Hargraves moved to Oxford 1911— she was employed as a cook and Hammond as a janitor. His father William Hargraves I made Miami history in 1925 when he and Eleanor Reece became the first two African American students to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree from the university. His uncle, Langford Hargraves, attended Miami beginning in 1924 and, although he finished his degree at Wilberforce University, he returned to Miami to work as a pool technician in the campus athletic facilities. His aunt, Edythe Hargraves, graduated from Miami with an education degree in 1943. She worked at Miami as a secretary until her passing in 1947 and, according to her family, was the first African American to be professionally hired by the university.

During his time at Miami, William was active in a vast number of student organizations spanning a multitude of interests, talents, and skills. A dedicated musician, he was involved in both marching band and concert band— where he served as vice president and president—, as well as Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a music fraternity. In 1953, Hargraves became one of the nine founding members of Miami’s Delta Upsilon chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the oldest intercollegiate historically Black fraternity in the United States. He was involved in several religious groups on campus— he served as vice president of Sigma Theta Epsilon, a Methodist fraternity, and as president of the Bethel Extension for the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Oxford. His membership in other fraternities and honor societies included the following: Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society, Kappa Delta Pi, an honor society for education (vice president); Pi Mu Epsilon, a professional mathematics society; Kappa Phi Kappa, an organization for men interested in becoming professors (vice president); Sigma Pi Sigma, an honor society for physics and astronomy; and Omicron Delta Kappa, a select and prestigious honor society recognizing exceptional leaders. In two of these organizations— Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa— he was the first Black student at Miami to be elected to membership. As a cadet in the Air Force ROTC, Hargraves was selected to be a part of the Arnold Air Society, an honorary organization for officer candidates. He was also active in the Campus Interracial Club and Student Faculty Council. William graduated in the spring of 1954 with a Bachelor of Science in Education.

Shortly following his graduation, Hargraves was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force and awarded a graduate assistantship in physics at Miami. After completing a year of graduate work at his alma mater, he reported for active duty, moving to the Bainbridge Air Base in Georgia for a six month period before relocating to Texas. It was there that he met his first wife, Maurine Collins, an organist and public school teacher. The couple married in 1957 and had three sons together. Hargraves returned to Miami in 1959 on a grant-in-aid scholarship to complete his master’s degree in physics, which he earned in 1961. He spent the following years serving as an air liaison officer in Vietnam, flying two-hundred combat missions and earning a number of awards and commendations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and National Defense Service Medal. In 1971, he accepted a position with Miami University as an associate professor of air science, becoming the first Black staff officer for Miami’s ROTC, where he remained until 1974. He then worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as Chief of Flight Deck Research and Development before becoming the Deputy Division Chief at the Pentagon in the early 1980s. Hargraves, ranked a colonel, retired from the Air Force in 1982 after thirty years of service as a pilot, instructor, air liaison officer, researcher, and professor. He spent the next twenty-eight years at Central State University, a historically Black university in Wilberforce, Ohio, first as an assistant professor and then as assistant dean of arts and sciences. During his time at Central State, he was recognized with the Teacher of the Year Award, Most Popular Professor Award, and Most Inspirational Teaching Award. Within the Oxford community, he served on the Oxford Housing Board of Appeals, was a trustee emeritus at Bethel A.M.E. Church, and continued his passion for music through playing the piano and singing for his congregation. After Maurine passed away in 2005, William remarried to his second wife, Gene.

Colonel William Hargraves II passed away on January 21st, 2019 at the age of eighty-six and is buried in Woodside Cemetery.


Written by Laurel Myers, (4, History & American Studies, 2023)


“1954 Miami Graduate Is Associate Professor of Air Force ROTC Staff.” The Journal News, July 1, 1971, p. 50. Retrieved from URL:

“Aerospace Officer Honored With Presentation of Two Medals.” The Journal News, November 18, 1971, p. 56. Retrieved from URL: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. URL: 1950 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2022. URL:

“Brother Hargraves Receives Grant.” The Sphinx, Vol. 44, No. 4, December 1959, p. 18. URL:

“Campus Notes.” Dayton Daily News, March 11, 1999, p. 30. Retrieved from URL:

Ceronie, Lauren. “A Miami Legacy: First African American Professor at MU Broke Barriers as student, teacher, serviceman.” The Miami Student, Vol. 140, No. 42, March 1, 2013. URL:

“Explore the Life and Legacy of Lincoln-Grant School, Covington, KY, U. S. A.!” Lincoln-Grant Online. URL:

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 03 August 2022), memorial page for Hammond Arthur Hargrave (18 Oct 1877–20 Aug 1936), Find a Grave Memorial ID 156896102, citing Woodside Cemetery, Oxford, Butler County, Ohio, USA; Maintained by KIR.

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 27 July 2022), memorial page for LTC William Frederick Hargraves II (18 Aug 1932–21 Jan 2019), Find a Grave Memorial ID 196295996, citing Woodside Cemetery, Oxford, Butler County, Ohio, USA; Maintained by Running Deer.

“First Black Officer Named to Local AFROTC Staff.” The Miami Student, Vol. 095, No. 01, Sep. 19, 1971. URL:

Meade, Maya. “Learn More This Ohio Town’s Rich Black History.” Backdrop Magazine, March 2, 2021. URL:

Miami University, Recensio 1954 (Oxford, Ohio: 1954) p. 38, 111, 114, 122, 123, 126, 128, 161, 171. Miami University Libraries Digital Collections. URL:

Miami University, Recensio 1955 (Oxford, Ohio: 1955) p. 32, 38, 41, 51, 65. Miami University Libraries Digital Collections. URL:

Obituary: William F. Hargraves II. Paul R. Young Funeral Home, January 21, 2019. URL:

“Omicron Delta Kappa Taps 15 Outstanding Men.” The Miami Student, Vol. 078, No. 57, May 19, 1953. URL:

“Oxford Housing– An Analysis.” The Miami Student, Vol. 096, No. 40, Apr. 10, 1973. URL:

Smith, Gerald L, Karen Cotton McDaniels, and John A. Hardin, eds. The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

“Swimming Pool Aide at Miami Heart Victim.” The Journal Herald, February 10, 1967, p. 5. URL:

“The Delta Mu Chapter History.” Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, Delta Upsilon Chapter. URL:

“William Hargraves, 86, Remembered.” Oxford Observer, January 25, 2019. URL: ​​

Cite this page:

Published: August 11, 2022

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 creative commons attribution required non-commercial use only share alike