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Webb, Alfreda Wilhelmena Johnson

by Aniya Laney, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, SLNC Government and Heritage Library, January 2023

February 21, 1923 - October 14, 1992

Alfreda Webb seated in an office. She has styled hair and large glasses. She is wearing an ascot and blazer. Her office windows are open and she is looking at the camera. She is middle aged.Dr. Alfreda Wilhelmena Johnson Webb, public servant, academic, and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, was born on February 21, 1923 in Mobile, Alabama to parents Bibb Garden Johnson and Cattie Lee Avant Johnson. She was the first Black American woman to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Medicine, and one of the first two Black American women to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She was also the first Black woman to hold a position in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Webb was the oldest of three sisters in the Johnson family; her younger sisters were named Gladys and Mercides. She was originally a native of Mobile, Alabama, but also lived in the city of Tuskegee, within a short distance of Tuskegee University. While living in Tuskegee, Webb worked at a laundry office, performing clerical and logistical duties there. She received her high school diploma in June 1940./p>

Webb’s collegiate education culminated in a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Medicine, which she earned in 1943 from Tuskegee University. She was the first Black woman to ever earn this degree. Webb began teaching after she earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1949 from Tuskegee Institute. She and Jane Hinton were the first two Black women to become Doctors of Veterinary Medicine in the United States as they both earned their degrees in 1949. In 1950, Webb earned a master’s degree in Anatomy at Michigan State University. According to Dr. Webb, she was interested in Michigan State University because the department head of anatomy was a woman. She began teaching anatomy at Michigan State University in 1950 and would stay there until 1959. In 1959, she left Michigan for Greensboro, North Carolina, where she taught as a professor of biology and mathematics at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University until her retirement.

Students in lab coats pose for a black and white photo. There are 6 in the back row, 10 in the middle row, and 4 in the first row, where Alfreda Webb is seated. There is a brick building in the background.Webb also became the first Black woman to participate as a member in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1972. She was appointed to this position by Robert W. Scott in 1971. Despite losing a bid for a full, non-appointed term in 1972, Webb remained active in politics. According to the 17th Edition of Who’s Who in American Politics (1999), she served as a member of the Democratic National Committee (and a delegate of their 1976 Convention) and was the Chairman of Minority Affairs for the North Carolina State Democratic Executive Committee. She was the first Black woman who served on the committee. She was also president of the Democratic Women of North Carolina. To celebrate her involvement in the community, she was given Alpha Kappa Alpha’s award for Political Excellence and was recognized as a distinguished alumnus by Tuskegee University in 1972. She was also a member of the Society of Sigma XI and the Gamma Sigma Delta Honorary Society. Lastly, she became a member of the Democratic Women of North Carolina and the Hayes YMCA organization. She retired from her chaired positions in 1978 for an election bid for the state House in Greensboro. Webb became involved in the planning committee for the School of Veterinary Medicine for North Carolina, originally founded at North Carolina State University in 1981.

Alfreda Webb was married to Dr. Burleigh Carlyle Webb (1923-1997). He was also an academic, and had worked and studied at many of the same institutions as Alfreda: Michigan State University, Tuskegee University, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where he served as the Dean of Agriculture for 32 years (1962-1993). Alfreda and Burleigh had two sons, named Burleigh Webb and Alfred Webb, as well as one daughter, Kathryn Webb.

The Webb's oldest son, Burleigh, Jr., was killed on March 12, 1988, and on October 14, 1992, Dr. Alfreda Webb died at 69 years old after battling breast cancer for fourteen years. She is buried in Lakeview Memorial Park, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her husband, Burleigh, Sr. passed away a few years later on July 18, 1997 from emphysema. Alfreda and Burleigh Sr. were survived by their son Alfred and daughter Kathryn. Kathryn passed away on October 19, 2016.

Alfreda was posthumously inducted by NC A&T into their Agriculture Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2013, Senate Resolution 133 was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly to honor the life and contributions of Dr. Alfreda Webb, among others. In 2016, a scholarship endowment at NC State University, the Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb Scholarship Award, was named for her. One of the houses of academic study at NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine is also named for Alfreda Webb.


Beatly, Sarah. “Celebrating Diversity: Black History Month.” College of Veterinary Medicine. Accessed February 24, 2020.

Brown, Nicholas. “WEBB HELPS SHAPE A&T HISTORY.” Greensboro News and Record, February 5, 1992.

Hanner, Tracy, DVM. Interview with the Author. February 2020.

“FUNERAL SATURDAY / TEACHER, LEGISLATOR DIES; WAS 'DYNAMIC' PIONEER.” Greensboro News and Record. October 16, 1992.

Dr. Alfreda J. Webb Documents and Information. F.D. Bluford Library’s Archive Department. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Available online at

Additional Resources:

Bolden, Tonya. Changing the Equation : 50 Us Black Women in Stem. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2020.

“Bueleigh C. Webb.” 1950 United States Federal Census. Accessed January 11, 2023 at

"Biography: Dr. Burleigh C. Webb." University of Maryland Eastern Shore. 2014. Available at

"Celebrating Black History Month." Cornell University: College of Veterinary Medicine. Ithaca, NY. 2020. Available at

Curtin, Terrence M. "The College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University: A Personal Perspective of Its Founding." North Carolina State University: College of Veterinary Medicine. Raleigh, NC. 2010. Available at

Kahler, Susan C. "Women’s organization nurtured, influenced." American Veterinary Medical Association. 2013. Available at

Nolen, R. Scott. "Tuskegee's diversity legacy continues today." American Veterinary Medical Association. 2010. Available at

"Senate Joint Resolution 133." North Carolina General Assembly. March 4th, 2013. Available at

Sorg, Lisa. "Special report: A celebration of women’s suffrage on its 99th anniversary." North Carolina Policy Watch. August 17, 2018. Available at

The Associated Press. "Alfreda Webb, 69, legislature's 1st black female." The News & Observer. October 17, 1992. Available at

The Associated Press. "Democrats to recruit minorities." The Dispatch (Lexington, NC), Feb. 22, 1978. Available at

Who's Who in American Politics. 17th edition, 1999-2000. New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who's Who, 1999.

Image Credits:

"Dr. Alfreda Webb. NC A&T University, Greensboro, NC." 1978. Terrence M. Curtin Papers, 1970-2011 (MC00420). Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries. Available online at

"Members of the '49 and '50 classes of Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine." 1950. Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. Available at