John H. Morrow, 1931

John H. Morrow, senior photo from the Scarlet Letter yearbook

John H. Morrow's senior photo printed in the Scarlet Letter yearbook

John Howard Morrow Sr. was born 1910 in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Morrow received a scholarship to attend Rutgers. While at Rutgers, he worked carrying ice to help support himself. Like Paul Robeson, Morrow faced racial discrimination while playing sports at Rutgers and considered leaving, but his father convinced him to stay. He studied French and education, and he was vice president of the French Club. Morrow was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society for his scholastic achievements. He graduated from Rutgers in 1931.

After graduating from Rutgers, Morrow worked as a teacher in Trenton. Then his wife Ann Rowena Davis persuaded him to go to graduate school. Morrow attended the University of Pennsylvania where he received a master’s degree in French. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Morrow taught at several historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). During this period, Morrow also received a fellowship to complete his doctoral degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and he graduated in 1952.

In 1959, Morrow was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be the first U.S. ambassador to Guinea, a newly sovereign state in West Africa that had just gained independence from French colonial rule. Morrow later published a memoir of his work in Africa, titled First American Ambassador to Guinea. In 1961 Morrow’s appointment as an ambassador came to an end, and he was asked by President John F. Kennedy to become a representative to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

Upon returning to the United States, Morrow received an honorary degree from Rutgers and a formal job offer to join the faculty in 1964. Morrow worked as a professor of Romance languages and chaired the department of foreign languages at Rutgers. He also served as the Faculty Senate chair. He retired from the university in 1978.

John H. Morrow was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1991.

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Photograph of John H. Morrow in 1964 with pieces of art collected in Africa during his time as the U.S. ambassador to Guinea.