For the Currys, Hampton University is ALL IN THE FAMILY

CLARENCE CURRY JR., right, sits next to a statue of his late father, Clarence “Jap” Curry Sr., at Hampton University.

A trip from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., is nothing new.

Then traveling from D.C. to Hampton University, in Hampton, Va., wouldn’t be considered earth-shattering, either.

But taking that trip down to Virginia from Pittsburgh with close friends and seeing a statue of your father…now that’s special.

That was precisely the experience for Clarence F. Curry Jr., the highly-educated engineer, professor and management consultant.

This past July, Curry, along with members of the historic “FROGS” organization, chartered a bus to D.C. to experience the National Museum of African American History and Culture, then proceeded to the famed HBCU, Hampton University, where he saw the statue of his own father, Clarence “Jap” Curry Sr.

Pardon the pun, but the statue of Clarence Curry Sr. pretty much has “cemented” the Curry family at Hampton University forever. But the marriage between the Currys and Hampton University didn’t start with Clarence Curry Sr.

THE FROGS TRIP, with other family and friends, to Hampton University this past summer.

The Curry family and its descendants first had their involvement with Hampton University in the 1800s. John Manley graduated from Hampton in 1892. Manley was Clarence F. Curry Jr.’s great grandfather. Curry Jr.’s grandparents on his dad’s side, Irving and Rowena Manley Curry, graduated from Hampton around 1920. Curry Jr.’s dad, Clarence Curry Sr., graduated from Hampton in 1941. Curry Sr.’s wife, Sadie, graduated from Hampton in 1943. Clarence Curry Jr.’s son, Clarence Curry III, graduated from Hampton in 1991. Clarence Curry III met his wife at Hampton. Their daughter, Jocelyn Curry, now attends Hampton as a junior, in the pre-med program. Clarence Curry Jr.’s sister, Doris Curry Parks, graduated from Hampton in 1967.

Ask a Curry who the real “H-U” is, and you know what college they’ll say.

Ironically, Clarence Curry Jr., the 30-year member of the FROGS, the former engineer at Westinghouse Electric from 1965-70, the man who taught marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh from 1975-1999, did not attend Hampton University.

His high school, Phenix High, was actually located inside a building on the Hampton University campus.

“The good students, we were allowed to leave our building, and we were supposed to go straight to the campus library and come straight back,” Curry Jr. told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview, Nov. 17. “But of course, we were all over the campus…trying to talk to the girls.”

Curry Jr. wanted to go into engineering after high school, and Hampton did not have an engineering program at the time of his graduation in 1961. Thus, with a little maneuvering, Curry Jr.  “came north of the promised land,” in his words, and attended Lafayette College, about 75 miles north of Philadelphia.

After obtaining his degree in metallurgical engineering from Lafayette College, Curry Jr. was recruited by Westinghouse Electric, in Pittsburgh. Curry Jr. took the job, and Pittsburgh has been his home since 1965. Curry Jr. later earned an MBA from Pitt and a Master of Science in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University.

In 1999, Curry started his own company and became a consultant with the Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, a position he still holds. Curry’s primary job with the SEA is to monitor the contracts SEA signs for minority business participation.

CLARENCE CURRY JR. speaks to those who went on the trip…

The FROGS ‘Hop on the Bus’

The extreme cold that the Pittsburgh area has been under for the past week is in stark contrast to the hot weather Pittsburgh had when the FROGS hopped on the charter bus, bound for Washington, D.C., and Hampton University. July 29 is when the fellas in their trademark green blazers left town, a trip that was to last about three days.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a haven for tourists. It opened in September 2016, and reached the one million visitor mark just four months later. Some of the people on the bus trip had never been to the museum, including those on the bus who were not FROGS members.


After the D.C. portion of the trip, Curry Jr. and the FROGS headed to Virginia, specifically “The Train Station.” No, the FROGS weren’t getting on a train—that’s the name of the Black-owned restaurant in Newport News, Va., a staple in the “Hampton Roads,” the area in Virginia where cities like Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News and Hampton are located.

The restaurant is located in Newport News. Hampton University is about 15 minutes away, the famed HBCU whose motto is, “The Standard of Excellence, an Education for Life.” While on campus, Curry Jr. spotted the statue of his late father, dressed to impress on a bench with a football in his right hand, the name “Clarence ‘Jap’ Curry” to his left. Everyone on the trip took photos of the statue, some taking photos with the statue, especially Curry Jr.

Curry Sr. received a Bachelor of Science degree from what was then known as Hampton Institute in 1941, and completed further educational studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and The George Washington University. He worked with the U.S. Postal Service for 43 years, including station manager. Clarence Curry Jr. loves to tell the story about how much his father loved music. In 1948, Curry Sr. formed his own band, Jap Curry’s Blazers, which traveled the country backing legendary artists like Sam Cooke, The Drifters, Marie Simon and Big Joe Turner. Curry Sr. also performed on live television with Johnny Mathis and Jackie Wilson.

In 1962, a musicians’ convention was held at the old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. Curry Sr. and his wife were there. Curry Jr. is sure of this, because as he did research for the Sports & Exhibition Authority some years ago, he found a photo of four African Americans walking towards the Civic Arena entrance for the convention. The two people on the right were his parents, Curry Sr. and Sadie.

Clarence “Jap” Curry Sr. died three years ago at age 99. In 2021, Hampton University erected the statue for “Jap,” along with another major Hampton contributor, Dr. May T. Christian.

Curry Sr. was a faithful supporter of the Hampton Chapter of the National Hampton Alumni Association Inc., and the Pirates’ Booster Club. Curry Sr. and Sadie endowed a scholarship for music majors, donated a collection of big band jazz arrangements, and for Curry Sr., was a fixture at Hampton football and basketball games.

THE FROGS, with Clarence Curry Jr. on the far left…

On Jan. 23, 2011, Curry Sr. received the Presidential Citizenship Award at the 118th Founder’s Day Celebration.

“I always thought that Dr. Christian and Mr. Curry were two of the most loyal, supportive, and dedicated graduates of this world-class institution. We commend the positive impact, good work and faithful efforts made by these two individuals,” said Dr. William R. Harvey, Hampton University President, in a statement from 2021. “We honor both Dr. Mary T. Christian and Mr. Clarence F. ‘Jap’ Curry, for their service to the community and the world, as well as their support of their alma mater, Hampton University.  For years, people’s lives were aided by their endeavors.  For these reasons and others, it is my pleasure to unveil these new statues.”

You never know, there could be more Currys who decide to attend Hampton University one day. It could be Hampton or another historically Black college. Curry Jr. told the Courier that he encouraged his children to attend HBCUs. They both graduated from Allderdice High School. His son, Clarence Curry III did attend Hampton. His daughter attended Spelman College, in Atlanta.

“They did well at Allderdice, but there were very few minorities in the scholars program which they participated in,” Curry Jr. said. He added that he felt his children “needed the HBCU experience to round out their education, to see more African Americans not only as student-peers, but also as faculty and administrators.”











About Post Author


From the Web