Category Archives: College of Public Service

Gospel Legend Dr. Bobby Jones Receives Lifetime Achievement Award at Homecoming Gospel Explosion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alum and the man considered the father of gospel television was honored Saturday night by his peers, including gospel sensation and Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin. Dr. Bobby Jones was celebrated for his more than 40 years of contributions to the gospel music industry and received a lifetime achievement award.

Dr. Bobby Jones’ career in gospel music and television spans more than 40 years. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The special recognition, made in collaboration with the GMA Dove Awards, was a part of TSU’s annual Gospel Explosion in Kean Hall, kicking off the 2019 homecoming week for the university. TSU President Glenda Glover, joined by Franklin and and GMA representatives, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Jones.

Jones won a 1983 Dove Award for his “I’m So Glad I’m Standing Here.”

“On this very stage 60 years ago, I received my bachelor’s degree, and four years later, I received my master’s degree,” Jones recalled. “The strange thing about it is here I am receiving a lifetime achievement award on the same stage. I am so grateful for this honor.”

Franklin, known for such gospel hits as “Love Theory,” ‘Wanna Be Happy,” and “A God Like You,” sent fans in the the packed Kean Hall screaming when he appeared on stage with the TSU New Direction Choir for several selections.

Before appearing with Franklin, New Direction earlier opened the night with with performances that left the crowd wanting more.

Gospel sensation Kirk Franklin performs with the TSU New Direction Choir at the Gospel Explosion. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Other big name stars included JJ Hairston, renowned leader of Youthful Praise choir; Koryn Hawthorne, contemporary gospel singer and finalist in Season 8 of NBC’s singing competition The Voice; and James Fortune, gospel music recording artist, songwriter and producer.

Referred to as the “Ed Sullivan of Gospel Music” and a staunched supporter of TSU, Jones, a Nashville native, is an American gospel music legend. For 36 years, Jones brought gospel music to a national TV audience with his legendary Sunday morning program “Bobby Jones Gospel.” He gave big breaks to rising stars like Yolanda Adams and Kirk Franklin.

Homecoming week runs through Saturday, Oct. 19, culminating with the parade along Jefferson Street, and the football game between TSU and Austin Peay at Nissan Stadium. For more information on Homecoming go to http://www.tnstate.edu/alumni/homecoming/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

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.

TSU’s Linda Spears to Serve on State’s Higher Education Leadership and Innovation Team

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has selected TSU’s Linda C. Spears to serve as part of its inaugural Higher Education Leadership and Innovation Fellows program.

Spears, the associate vice president for Human Resources, will serve with 14 others on the cohort-based professional development program to cultivate the next generation of enterprise leaders in higher education. She was nominated by TSU President Glenda Glover.

“I am so honored to be nominated by President Glover and to be ultimately selected as a fellow in the inaugural Tennessee Higher Education Leadership and Innovation Fellows program,” Spears said.  “It is such an honor to represent TSU in this leadership development experience.” 

According to a THEC release, Spears and her fellow cohorts  will convene on campuses across the state to learn from experts and build extended networks. The program will facilitate individual development goals through professional assessments, one-on-one executive coaching, and mentoring networks and job shadowing experiences.

Among other responsibilities, the THEC fellows will  facilitate leadership development through self-exploration and skill training; provide  foundational principles of higher education policy and practice for exposure to all aspects of the higher education enterprise; as well as inspire  ideas and cultivate new ways of thinking to shape the emerging paradigm of post-secondary education institutions.

“Addressing the challenges currently facing higher education will require leaders that are steeped in innovation and keenly focused on student success,” said Mike Krause, executive director of THEC.  “This program will help Tennessee develop a cohort of higher education professionals ready to excel in executive positions.”

Spears said although the program is demanding, she hopes to gain more insight into the strategic operations of higher educational institutions to “prepare me for greater service and advancement opportunities.”

An operational improvement advocate throughout her career, Spears has developed a management leadership training program, introduced an electronic personnel action system, and developed many highly effective workflow processes. She hopes to bring that experience of professional development to her new role as a THEC fellow.

“This inaugural class will help to shape the future of this program,” she added. 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

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.

Tennessee State University Athletics Partners with Nike and BSN Sports

Courtesy: TSU Athletic Media Relations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State University Department of Athletics has announced a new multi-year agreement with Nike through BSN SPORTS beginning with the 2019-20 season.  

“I am very pleased to have TSU Athletics in a new partnership with BSN/Nike for the provider of equipment and apparel for our sport programs,” said Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips. “We had enjoyed a good relationship for a decade with another major player in sport apparel and simply sought to discover what brand would be best for our student-athletes moving forward. We feel that the Nike brand will bring a superior branding opportunity for our programs and the university community at large. Our entire staff is working feverishly to get our teams ready to represent the swoosh this fall. We can’t wait for our alumni and supporters to be a part of this awesome new look.” 

The agreement between TSU and BSN SPORTS is for five years and makes Nike the official athletic apparel, footwear, accessory and equipment brand for all 15 Big Blue programs.

“We are looking forward to partnering with Tennessee State University and NIKE in providing the finest apparel and athletic products,” said Todd Northrop, Collegiate Select senior vice president.  “This agreement affirms our highest aspirations for BSN’s Collegiate Select program: delivering elite, customized products and services to our college customers.  We are excited to partner with Tigers to elevate the performance and impact of their tradition-rich and growing athletic program.

“Additionally, we can’t wait to get to know all of the coaches associated with this great program and work tirelessly to put time back into their day so they can spend more time impacting lives on the field of play.”

TSU COACHES’ COMMENTS ABOUT THE NEW PARTNERSHIP

Donika Sutton, Head Volleyball Coach: “I am excited about the move with Nike. Volleyball is one of the first sports to introduce the transition this fall and we are honored to lead the way.  This move allows Tennessee State University, Athletics and our recruiting to expand to another level. My favorite part will be watching our girls’ faces on gear day.”

Brian “Penny” Collins, Head Men’s Basketball Coach: “This is a great time to be a Tiger… joining the BSN/Nike Family will be vital to our student athletes’ experience. The swoosh will give us instant credibility in recruiting potential future Tigers. I’m looking forward to growing our TSU brand as well as bringing value to Nike as well!”

Jessica Kern, Head Women’s Basketball Coach “The Nike brand has been an ambassador for social change, promoting all facets of every athlete and is propitiatory to staying within the guidelines of being trendsetters while staying loyal to classic looks and comfort for all shapes and sizes. I am elated and honored to be donning the swoosh daily.”

Rod Reed, Head Football Coach: “I’m excited about our new partnership with Nike. I think that this is a brand that will be big in our recruiting efforts, and it has also created a buzz among our student athletes.”

Jeremy Taylor, Director of Equipment: “I believe that this partnership with BSN/NIKE opens up some new roads for us. We now have a one-stop shop for over 95 percent of our apparel, equipment, footwear, and product embellishment needs. It allows us to outfit our incoming student-athletes, in all sports, with the same brand of apparel and footwear that they have been wearing during their prospective high school careers, which should help us in recruiting as well.”

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

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.

23 Second-Year Male Students Complete Rite-of-Passage Mentoring Program; Initiative Inspires Young Males to Become Better Men

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Men’s Initiative, a character and integrity building program at Tennessee State University, is implementing a series of programs aimed to inspire young male students to become better men. 

Students who participated in the inaugural Rite of Passage mentoring program covered topics such as personal responsibility, values, communications, relationship building, and health and wellness. (Submitted Photo)

Recently, 23 second-year male students completed a semester-long Rite of Passage mentoring and leadership-training program conducted by the initiative. The students were pinned and honored in a ceremony before TSU administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community members in the Performing Arts Center on the main campus. 

“The goal of this program is to help these students to matriculate and graduate here at the university,” said Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. “We want to make sure that they are successful by engaging them in things that help them in their matriculation, as it relates to character and integrity, and understanding the principles of being responsible young men.” 

The inaugural Rite of Passage process started in January, with interest meetings for the students and a training for the 13 TSU faculty and staff mentors who helped facilitate student development. It continued with a six-week curriculum that concluded with a final challenge in the seventh week. 

According to Robert Taylor, director of the TSU Men’s Initiative, participants were trained on personal responsibility, values, communication, relationship building, health and wellness, and African diaspora history. He said the program culminated with a mentor/mentee matching ritual that will continue for 15 weeks over the summer. All 23 students are expected to return to TSU in the fall, as certified mentors. 

“The Rite of Passage portion of the Men’s Initiative engages second-year male students in a series of workshops and mentorship programs to help them to transition from boyhood to manhood,” Taylor said. “Our ultimate purpose is to increase student persistence and to help these young men understand who they are as individuals, and what their role is in the community, and how they can further that through their education.” 

Travion Crutcher, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Hunstville, Alabama, was a member of the first class that participated in the Rite of Passage training. As a graduate, he returns next semester as a mentor. 

“I have always wanted to be able to help people find their way, because when I first came here, I didn’t know where to start and someone helped me,” said Crutcher, who plays cymbals in the TSU Aristocrat of Bands.  “I just like to be that person you can ask questions.” 

Taylor said in addition to the Rite of Passage, the Men’s Initiative, which is funded by Title III, also includes success coaching, where teams of coaches work with the students to make sure that they are taking advantage of all of the resources that are available to them. There is also the Men’s Empowerment Zone, Taylor said. 

“Empowerment Zone, which we are creating on the second floor of Boyd Hall, focuses on improving the actual physical environment for the students,” Taylor said.

When it is completed, Taylor said the empowerment zone will include a gym with equipment to help the men stay in shape, as well as upgrade the barbershop. He said a computer lab is also being developed in partnership with the Career Development Center, and there will be a conference center where students can do online interviews with potential employers.

For more information on the Tennessee State University Male Initiative, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/mancenter/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

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.

Tennessee State University Commencement Speaker Michael Eric Dyson Tells Graduates to Continue to Learn and Appreciate the Difference in People and Culture

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “Receiving your degrees does not mean classes are over,” the keynote speaker at Tennessee State University’s spring commencement told more than 700 undergraduate students who received degrees in various disciplines Saturday.

President Glenda Glover and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson enter the Howard C. Gentry Complex for the 2019 Spring Undergraduate Commencement. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, bestselling author and professor of sociology at Georgetown University, said to impact the world graduates must be literate, interconnected and transformative.

“You must be ‘LIT,’” he said, attributing the acronym to the young generation’s reference to something fun, good or exciting. “You might think classes are over so you don’t have to read. But you have to be literate in the world we live in because it is important. When you go into the world as proud Tennessee State University graduates they know you come from a great place. You got to be morally and psychologically literate.”

Before Dyson gave his speech in the Howard C. Gentry Complex, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the graduates, parents, relatives and friends for their support.

“I applaud you for having reached this milestone,” said Glover. “Today is only a stepping stone. We thank you. We salute you.”

Dyson, also known as a preacher and radio host, has authored or edited more than 20 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marvin Gaye and Hurricane Katrina. He has received several awards for his literary work, including three NAACP Image Awards and the Southern Book Prize.

Graduates prepare to receive their degrees at the Spring Undergraduate Commencement. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

“You must be interconnected,” he said. “You are going into a world that ain’t reading your same book, not listening to your same culture, and not reared in your home, but you got to make a way to get along with people who don’t look like you or act like you.”

The undergraduate ceremony followed the graduate commencement also in the Gentry Complex Friday evening. Civil rights leader and activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, was the speaker.

Dyson also urged the graduates to be about change and improvement in their communities.

“That means you can’t just leave it the way you found it. You got to make something better where you show up,” he said.

More than 700 students participated in the Spring Undergraduate Commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

Charles Alexander Hill, who received his bachelor’s degree in business, had not heard much about Dyson, but he thinks the speaker gave him and his fellow graduates “just what we needed to hear.”

“I am very prepared to face the world,” Hill said. “TSU has given me all the tools I need to succeed in my life, and the speaker was very dynamic with his words of encouragement and wisdom.”

Following his speech, Dyson was presented an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his body of work.

university kicks off Draft Day with luncheon for NFL moms

Professional Football Players Mothers Association visit TSU

President Glenda Glover addresses members of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association at a luncheon she hosted for the group in the TSU Executive Dining Room. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – About 25 members of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association, comprising mothers of current and former professional players, were treated to lunch by TSU President Glenda Glover on the first day of the NFL Draft last week.

“I am so happy to see all these mothers of the NFL players who have either played or are currently playing,” said Glover, who had the luncheon in TSU’s Executive Dining Room. “Draft Day is always fun and exciting, and we are glad you selected to share that excitement with us. We know that without you there will be no sons playing in the NFL. By them playing, they have allowed your families to impact others by giving back to the community and changing so many lives in a positive way.”  

Connie Alexander was among the group that visited TSU. Her son, Ronald Grant Alexander, who graduated TSU in 1994, played 11 years in the NFL, including a Super Bowl win with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also played for the Arizona Cardinals, and the Carolina Panthers before retiring with the New York Giants.

Connie said she had to make the trip to TSU because of her son’s special connection to the institution.

“For us, TSU is home, even though we are from Pittsburgh,” Connie said. “Whenever he is involved in something he always tries to put TSU in there; that’s how much he loves this school.”

For Robin Dunlap, whose son, King Dunlap, V, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles from Auburn, returning to TSU was a special treat. She is a TSU graduate. She met and married her husband, King Dunlap IV, who played for the TSU Tigers from 1965-1969. He played for the Baltimore Colts.

“Coming back to my school along with these wonderful women was very special,” Robin Dunlap said. “I am very proud to host these lovely ladies at my alma mater. And I am glad to be with them here today, because they are such powerful individuals.”

Michelle Green is president of PFPMA. She said visiting TSU was fulfilling the association’s main objective, which is to provide advice and support to families of players entering the National Football League.

Green is the mother of former NFL offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who played in the league 12 years and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.

“We want to be there as a support system for them, because we were there in that position at one time,” said Green, adding that the association also does a lot of community charity work. “It’s a different world once you cross over and go into the NFL. You’re entering a whole new game, and only those in it understand it.”

Barbara Murrell, a senior member of President Glover’s administration, is credited with organizing the NFL mothers’ visit and tour.

The mothers’ visit to TSU was just part of the university’s participation in the NFL Draft. TSU’s famed Aristocrat of Bands was in a promotional advertising the Draft, and was part of the Draft entertainment. The following morning, the band appeared on ESPN’s sports talk show First Take.

Also attending the luncheon for the NFL mothers were TSU Board of Trustee Member Debra Cole, former State Sen. Thelma Harper, Monica Fawknotson, executive director of the Metro Sports Authority,  and Vivian Wilhoite, Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County property assessor.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, premier historically-black land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU’s graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus boasts a top-notch Executive MBA Program. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Civil Rights Leader Al Sharpton and Professor and Bestselling Author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson to Speak at TSU Dual Commencements

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Renowned activist and civil rights leader, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and Georgetown University professor and bestselling author, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, will be the commencement speakers at Tennessee State University’s dual spring graduation ceremonies.

Sharpton will speak on Friday, May 3, at the graduate commencement ceremony in the Howard C. Gentry Complex, beginning at 5 p.m.

On Saturday, May 4, Dyson will address undergraduate students in Hale Stadium. The ceremony will begin at 8 a.m.

Overall, more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will receive degrees in various disciplines.

Sharpton, a community leader, politician, minister and civil-rights activist, serves as the host of Politics Nation on MSNBC. With more than 40 years of experience as an advocate, he is one of America’s most renowned civil rights leaders. He has held such notable positions as the youth director of New York’s Operation Breadbasket, director of ministers for the National Rainbow Push coalition, and founder of his own broad-based progressive civil rights organization, the National Action Network.

Known for taking up the fight on behalf of the underdog in his pursuit of justice and equality, Sharpton is no stranger to TSU. In 2014, he came to the university to take up the cause to have TSU’s 1957- 1959 Men’s Championship Basketball Team, the first-ever to win three national titles back-to back, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

He joined university officials and staff, including President Glenda Glover, state officials, community leaders and stakeholders, as he presented his cause during a ceremony in Kean Hall.

As a result of Sharpton’s efforts and that of many others including TSU alumnus Dr. Richard “Dick” Barnett, a member of all three teams, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on April 7 that the Tennessee State men’s basketball championship teams of 1957-59 will be one of 12 honorees in this year’s Class of 2019. The class will be celebrated at this year’s enshrinement festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts, September 5-7.

Dyson, the undergraduate commencement speaker, also known as a preacher and radio host, has authored or edited more than 20 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marvin Gaye and Hurricane Katrina. He has received several awards for his literary work, including three NAACP Image Awards and the Southern Book Prize.

Dyson’s book, “Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster,” for which he received the American Book Award, analyzes the political and social events in the wake of the catastrophe against the backdrop of an overall “failure in race and class relations.”

 A longtime educator, Dyson taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University and the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information on commencement, visithttp://www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/


Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, premier historically-black land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU’s graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus boasts a top-notch Executive MBA Program. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Spring Preview Day expected to Attract Hundreds on April 13

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Hundreds of students and parents are expected to attend Spring Preview Day 2019 at Tennessee State University on April 13, organizers say. 

The Office of Enrollment Management and Student Success says high school seniors and juniors from across the nation will attend the one-day event in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center. Last year, more than 800 attended Spring Preview Day.

TSU staff, right, talk to visiting students and parents about the university’s offerings and programs during Spring Preview 2018. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The visiting students and their parents and relatives – from about 15 states including, California, Texas, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin – will have the opportunity to see the campus during springtime, as well as acquaint them with the university’s offerings and admission processes.

Activities for the visitors, according to organizers, will also include meetings with academic departments, TSU student organizations, campus tours, entertainment by the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, and the Big Blue Tiger Spring Blue & White Football Game in Hale Stadium.

“Spring Preview Day will be an opportunity for students to come, meet and greet professors and administrators at TSU to get a feel for what it means to be a student here,” says Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success. “Most of all, we want to inspire them to continue their academic pursuits and make TSU their choice.”

Spring Preview Day 2019 comes on the heels of “Experience TSU,” another innovative recruitment campaign that will soon kick off in three major markets – Memphis, March 27; Chattanooga, March 30; and Birmingham, April 6. The aim is to meet students where they are.

TSU President Glenda Glover is leading the campaign to meet prospective students face-to-face to ensure their commitment to attend TSU.

These recruitment efforts follow sweeping changes Glover announced in 2016 that raised admission standards, as the university moved to increase retention and graduation rates. Minimum requirements for incoming freshmen went up from a 2.25 GPA to 2.5, while the ACT score remained at 19. 

Izzard said “Experience TSU” is a way of “personally congratulating these students for applying and being accepted” to TSU.

“We look forward to personally welcoming these students and their parents to our campus to let them know of all the wonderful opportunities to grow and learn while here at Tennessee State University,” says Izzard. 

Spring Preview Day will kick off at 10 a.m. in Kean Hall. For more information, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/emss/


Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

‘Let My People Vote,’ TSU Students Host Forum To Address Voter Suppression

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students in the College of Public Service hosted a forum recently to have a candid discussion about voter suppression.

‘Let My People Vote’ Poster (Submitted Photo)

The forum on Feb. 27 at the university’s Avon Williams Campus included a panel discussion, as well as a screening of “Let My People Vote,” an award-winning short documentary about voter suppression.

Keturah Barnett, a student in the Master of Public Administration Program at the university and cofounder of the Know Your Rights Program, said voter suppression is an issue that affects people from all walks of life.

“Voter suppression doesn’t just affect minorities.  It affects young people, students, ex-offenders and others,” she said. “When you think of voter suppression, a lot of people say that happened years ago in the 1960s during the civil rights movement, but it is still happening today.  And with the midterm elections that took place last year in 2018 in November, we saw a lot of that in state’s like Georgia and Florida.”

Keturah Barnett (Submitted Photo)

Barnett, who has worked at the Nashville Juvenile Public Defenders Office since 2016, said she hoped the event would inspire students to engage in the political process by voting, as well as challenging current laws and holding elected officials accountable.

Dr. Michael Harris, dean of the College of Public Service and a nationally-syndicated columnist, was pleased to see members of the larger Nashville community, as well as TSU students and faculty, at the screening.

“It is imperative that the College of Public Service stand at the forefront of engaging on issues related to voter suppression and access.  The history of and current efforts to suppress voters in African-American communities undermines the democratic processes black institutions, including TSU, have fought to improve and revolutionize for centuries,” Harris said. 

Dr. Anthony Campbell, assistant professor of Public Administration in the College of Public Service and the faculty member who worked with students to organize the event, stressed the importance of grappling with this issue.

Dr. Michael Harris (Submitted Photo)

“This filmmaker has developed a documentary that shows how the black vote has been suppressed in Florida for a long time and leading up to this last election, typically felons but more broadly people of color,” he said.

“Let My People Vote,” directed by Gilda Brasch, follows formerly homeless Desmond Meade, now the State Director for Florida Live Free Campaign, as he canvasses the streets of Tampa, Florida, on the last day of early voting before the 2016 presidential election.  At the time of the filming, Meade, who earned a law degree from Florida International University’s College of Law, could not vote or practice law in Florida because he has a felony.

Gilda Brasch (Submitted Photo)

Brasch’s documentary has won many awards, including the 2018 Best Short Documentary at the BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta and the 2018 Audience Award For Best Short Film in the Florida Film Festival.  It was also featured at the Meet The Press Film Festival  with The American Film Institute. She said she created the documentary so viewers could see what voter suppression looks like in the current political climate.

“If people are interested in voting rights, followed the recent midterm elections and saw what happened to Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, then when they watch ‘Let My People Vote’ they will actually get an opportunity to see real people at the polling places having their votes surpressed,” she said.

Brasch said she was shocked by how quickly she found examples of people being turned around at the polls.

“We just got out of the rental van, and turned the camera on, and we got all those testimonies immediately in the space of probably 45 minutes to an hour.  It’s not like we had to go stand out there for hours.  It’s immediate in these districts,” she said.

Martesha Johnson (Submitted Photo)

Immediately following the screening, students hosted a panel to discuss the issue.  Panel members included: Metropolitan Nashville Public Defender Martesha Johnson, Davidson County Election Commisioner A.J. Starling, Project Return Associate Director Elizabeth Hayes and others.

Barnett  said the goal of the event was to provide a forum for a conversation they believe is timely and necessary.

“Voting is a fundamental right for everybody.  It is something that any American should be able to do without being hassled,” she said.  “Going to the polls should be just as easy as going to the grocery store.”


Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.