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Rhoads, Joseph J. (1890–1951)

Roland C. Hayes Biography Entry

Joseph J. Rhoads, school administrator and college president, was born in Marshall, Texas, on October 30, 1890, the son of Dennis Collins and Mary J. Rhoads. He graduated from Central High School in Marshall in 1906; he received a B.S. degree from Bishop College with highest honors in 1910. He served as assistant principal of the H. B. Pemberton High School in Marshall from 1910 to 1918. In 1918 he was married to Lucile O. Bridge. He became an instructor at Tuskegee Institute the next year and remained there until 1922, when he went to Yale as a student. After a year in New Haven, he returned to Texas in 1923 and was principal of Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas from 1923 to 1929. In 1929 Rhoads became the sixth president of Bishop College, the first black and the first alumnus of the college to head it. In Marshall, Rhoads distinguished himself as a teacher, administrator, and civil-rights leader during a tenure that lasted from 1929 to 1951. In 1935 he received an M.A. degree from the University of Michigan. As president of the Texas Council of Negro Organizations and chairman of the Texas Commission on Democracy in Education, Rhoads fought for equality of opportunity for all citizens and equal salaries for black teachers in Texas. He established the Dallas branch of Bishop College, which opened in 1947, thus laying the foundation for the eventual move of the institution from Marshall to Dallas in 1961. The J. J. Rhoads Education Building on the new campus was named for him. Rhoads died on October 9, 1951, and was buried in McJohnson Cemetery, Marshall.

Who's Who in America, 1950–51. Who's Who in Colored America, 1950.


  • Education
  • University Presidents and School Administrators
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Educators

Time Periods:

  • Texas in the 1920s

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Roland C. Hayes, “Rhoads, Joseph J.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 19, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: