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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 School.² 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 According to some sources, Riddle also wrote the lyrics to 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), ³Interview with John Riddle, Oral History Program, University of California, Los Angeles (Sep. 5, 1992); "Robinson Having Problems with Giants," Los Angeles Sentinel, Apr. 15, 1982: B1.


Profile Photo: Oviatt Library Digital Collections

Helen Wheeler Riddle Gallery

Photo Credit: USC Alumni

USC Digital Accessibility