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Ujima

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A family photo of the Ujima Living-Learning Community, some standing, some sitting, all in a large group outside of Peddrew-Yates Hall.

In collaboration with the Africana Studies and the Black Cultural Center (BCC), Ujima Living-Learning Community (LLC) provides students with resources and a support system that enriches the Black student experience. Located in Peddrew-Yates Hall, Ujima focuses on cultural enrichment and academic excellence allowing students with similar interests to partake in programming and dialogue about Black identity, culture, and history.


Ujima (pronounced oo-JEE-mah), means collective work and responsibility in the Swahili language.

  • Be in an inviting and open space for the discussion of Black history, identity, and personal experiences.
  • Academic support and access to campus resources designed to help you succeed.
  • Networking opportunities and engagement with Black faculty and staff.
  • Attend cultural excursions and field trips to further explore identity.
  • Connect to other resources that emphasize Black culture (clubs, organizations, leadership opportunities).

It is important for applicants to understand that being a part of Ujima is more than just living in a residence hall with people who have similar interests. Below are the ways that students are required to engage in the community:

  • Take an Africana studies course (AFST 1714) in the Fall or Spring. This course fulfills university graduation requirements of Pathways Core 3 and 7.
  • Participate in one or more community service events per academic year.
  • Attend weekly meetings on Monday evenings.
  • First-year students will be assigned a peer mentor and participate in a mentorship program.
  • Returners must serve in a leadership role as a Community Peer Leader or Peer Mentor for first-year students.

Please give these requirements careful consideration before applying to Ujima to ensure that this will be a good match for you.

Ujima Living-Learning Community is located in Peddrew-Yates Hall. This building was initially known as New Residence Hall West. It was renamed in 2003 during the 50th anniversary celebration of Blacks at Virginia Tech. Today, Peddrew-Yates Hall honors Irving Linwood Peddrew III, the first black student to enroll at Virginia Tech in 1953, and Charlie Lee Yates, the first black graduate of Virginia Tech in 1958.

In September 1953, Irving Linwood Peddrew III, was the first black student admitted to Virginia Polytechnic Institute. In 1951, Everett Pierce Ramey applied to study business at Virginia Polytechnic Institute; however, his application was denied because Black students were only considered for admission if they wished to study something that was not offered at Virginia State University, a historically black public land-grant university. This made Virginia Polytechnic Institute the first historically white, four-year, public university in the former 11 states of the Confederacy to admit a black undergraduate.

Although he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, Peddrew suffered years of isolation and mistreatment. Peddrew was the only black student among 3,321 white students on campus his first year. He was not allowed to live on campus or eat in the cafeteria. He lived with a black couple, Mr. and Mrs. William Hoge, about a mile away from campus.

In the fall of 1954, three more black students were admitted to the engineering program at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute: Lindsay Cherry, Floyd Wilson, and Charlie Yates, all from Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. They too were not allowed to live on campus or eat in the cafeteria with their classmates.

After his junior year, Peddrew relocated to California where he worked in the aerospace and food industries. In 1958, Yates became the first black student to graduate from Virginia Tech. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with honors. Yates later returned to Virginia Tech to teach in the Department of Mechanical Engineering followed by the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. In addition, he served as a member of the board of visitors.

In 2010, Yates passed away after a long battle with leukemia. His legacy continues through the Virginia Tech Yates Society.

In November 2002, Tamara Kennelly, University Archivist, held an oral history interview featuring Peddrew discussing his experience at Virginia Tech.

For additional information, contact the Ujima LLC Director at ujimallc@vt.edu.