Wanda Sykes was born in the Virginia town of Portsmouth. When she was in third grade, her family relocated to Maryland.

Her mother, Marion Louise (née Peoples), was a banker, and her father, Harry Ellsworth Sykes, was a United States Army colonel who worked at the Pentagon. Her older brother’s name is Harry.

Sykes’ family history was examined for an episode of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr., a PBS genealogy show that aired in 2012.

Her ancestors may be traced back to a court case in 1683 involving her ancestor, Elizabeth Banks, a free white lady and the indentured servant who gave birth to a multiracial child, Mary Banks, fathered by a slave, who gained her mother’s free status.

The Sykes family history, according to historian Ira Berlin, an expert in the history of American slavery, is “the only such example that I am aware of in which it is feasible to trace a black family established in freedom from the late 17th century to the present.”

Wanda Sykes Alma Mater

Sykes graduated from Hampton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha after attending Arundel High School in Gambrills, Maryland.

Her first job out of college was as a contracting expert at the National Security Agency, where she remained for five years.

When Did Wanda Sykes Graduate From Hampton?

Sykes attended Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, after graduating from Arundel High School in 1982. She obtained a bachelor of science degree in marketing in 1986.


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