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A History of Diversity at USC Gould: Profiles of Notable Alumni

Helen Wheeler Riddle '27

Helen Wheeler Riddle (1904-1956) was the first African-American female graduate of USC Law School². Born in Indiana and raised in Bakersfield, Calif., Riddle was the niece of prominent African-American lawyer Willis O. Tyler.² She was also a founding member of the USC Sigma Chapter Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the first national sorority to be founded by African-American women.² Riddle is also the uncredited author of the USC Fight Song.³ 

In 1929 she married Negro League baseball player and USC football player John Thomas Riddle and had four children. John T. Riddle Jr., their eldest son, would go on to become a renowned visual artist and teacher.¹

Sources: ¹Oviatt Library Digital Collections, ²USC Law Magazine (Spring, 1997, p. 12), ³UCLA Digital Library Collections
Profile Photo: Oviatt Library Digital Collections

Helen Wheeler Riddle Gallery

Photo Credit: USC Alumni