NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Carrie Gentry, a civil rights activist and TSU educator, died Saturday. She was 95.
Gentry, mother of TSU alum and Nashville Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, Jr., was married to the late TSU athletic director Howard Gentry, Sr., after whom the Gentry Center is named.
She came to then-Tennessee A&I College in 1949 with her husband, and taught rhythmic and modern dance at the university. Later, along with friend Inez Crutchfield, an assistant professor of health education at TSU (1949-1985), Carrie Gentry became influential in the effort to desegregate Nashville, aiding student protestors during the nonviolent civil rights movement.
“I really feel humbled today standing among so many worthy people, and you my friend, Inez,” Gentry said in 2014, as she, Crutchfield and legendary track and field coach Ed. Temple were being honored for their contributions to the city, at the 10th Annual James “Tex” Thomas Humanitarian Prayer Breakfast.
“As I stand here today, I think about all the people that helped me move along the way. I want to thank everyone for the honor and praise. It is a tribute to my family who helped me succeed.”
Pioneers in the civil rights movement in Nashville during the 1960s, Gentry and Crutchfield became involved in the League for Women Voters, and were the first African-American members of the Davidson County Democratic Party’s Women Club. The two would later become presidents of the group – Crutchfield in 1975, and Gentry in 1978.
A longtime member of First Baptist Church until her passing, Carrie and her husband Howard reportedly transported students from TSU to her pastor, first to be trained in nonviolent tactics in the church basement and then to participate in the sit-in protests in downtown Nashville.
Carry Gentry was born in Georgia as one of 14 children. She lost her parents at an early age and was raised by her siblings and moved to Boston. She attended Howard University, where she majored in health physical education and dance.
At TSU, Gentry also served as the director of the majorettes. Like her husband, Howard Gentry, Sr., she is also in the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
About Tennessee State University
Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.