John Chavis born 18 October 1763
John Chavis, early 19th Century minister and teacher, was the first African American to graduate from a college or university in the United States. Chavis was born on October 18, 1763. His place of birth is debated by historians.
Some scholars think that Chavis hailed from the West Indies. Others believe that he was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, or that he was born in North Carolina. Available records document that Chavis was a free African American who probably worked for Halifax, Virginia attorney James Milner beginning in 1773. It is likely that Chavis utilized the books in Milner’s extensive law library to educate himself.