Ellis L. Green

In 1958, Ellis L. Green becomes the first African American graduate of Austin Seminary. A native of Edna, TX, Green is the third African American matriculant at the Seminary when he begins his studies in 1954. After graduation, he is ordained in the Northeast Texas Presbytery and becomes the first African American officer in the Austin Seminary Association.

Green would serve at the Harrison Street Presbyterian Church in Longview, Texas, the Berean Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, and the West Hills Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. 

In 1971, Green, at the age of 41, suffers an untimely death in Washington D.C. while attending a conference on school dropouts.


David O. Shipley

A native of Missouri, World War II veteran David O. Shipley starts his studies at Austin Seminary in 1958. Shipley would return to Missouri to serve as a pastor for both the Presbyterian and Baptist denominations. He would author and edit several books, sometimes in conjunction with his wife, Alberta D. Shipley.


In his book Neither Black Nor White (1971), Shipley offers a glimpse into a black student’s experience at Austin Seminary during the 1950s, one that marks a stark departure from the alumni recollections published in the official history of the seminary. Consider the following painful episode:

"Even while in seminary, on Sunday nights I found it a frustrating and agonizing experience to consider where I could secure food. So deeply hurt was I one night as I attempted to purchase a carry-out package, I vowed to leave the seminary because even within the seminary there were almost insurmountable problems. Their ministers were trained for their lifelong witness, with fieldwork as an integral part of this training. But there were in the area no churches of our denomination willing to accept a Negro as a trainee. No wonder I traveled over five hundred miles one way every other week to serve a small Negro parish."
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Marion Childress-Usher

In 1980, Marion Childress-Usher, then Marion C. Oliver, becomes the first African American woman graduate of Austin Seminary.

Rev. Childress-Usher has served at St Mark's United Methodist Church in Lockhart, TX, has been an active member of the National Council of Negro Women - Greater Austin Section, and is a member of First United Methodist Church, Austin with her husband Mauricio.

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Marion Childress-Usher and other women graduates and faculty of Austin Seminary, circa 1980s