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New Nashville Civil Rights Documentary Features TSU Alums

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Tennessee State University Alum Tanya Coplen Gray approached her high school classmates about producing a short documentary to commemorate their 50th year high school anniversary, Gray had no idea how important the project would become.

“This short film was done as a burden of love.  We did this out of love for one another, and that’s really critical to me, to make sure people understand that is how it got started,” says Gray, who graduated from TSU in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in sociology. 

Gray, along with her Cameron High School classmates Deborah Majors Bell and Ida Venson Currie, serve as executive producers of  “The Past Is Prologue: The Cameron Class of 1969,” an award-winning documentary that recounts a significant, but largely-forgotten, chapter of Nashville’s civil rights struggle that happened during the late-1960s.

Featured are (l to r)Tanya Coplen Gray, Ola Hudson, Deborah Majors Bell, Ida Venson Currie, Mark Schlicher (Photo Submitted)

The film, which was produced and directed by Nashville filmmaker Mark Schlicher, and co-produced by Lisa Venegas, will air on Nashville Public Television, WNPT Channel 8 Sunday, February 16, at 10:30 p.m., and Wednesday, February 26, at 9:00 p.m..

In spring 1968, during a volatile period for race relations in Nashville and throughout the United States, all-black Cameron high school lost a high-profile basketball tournament game to Stratford, a mostly-white school. A spontaneous protest and scuffles broke out afterward, as many upset Cameron fans believed that the game had been unfairly officiated in favor of Stratford.

In response, school authorities barred Cameron High School from all athletics for an entire year, while Stratford received no sanctions. In response to the punishment, parents, students, and supporters in the community protested, marched in the streets, and enlisted famed civil rights attorney Avon Williams, Jr., to champion their cause in federal court, making it part of his long-running school desegregation lawsuit.

Currie, who secured a bachelor’s degree in English Education from TSU in 1974, says former Cameron Principal O.R. Jackson, marshaled the school’s faculty and staff to find ways for Cameron High School seniors to enjoy their final year in spite of the punishment.

L TO R: Mark Schlicher, student extras, and Shelena Walden at Cameron High School (Photo Submitted)

“He knew we were not going to be coming to the stadium on Friday night for football games. We were not going to be going to the gym in the afternoon for pep rallies prior to the games. So he brought the vision to the teachers, ‘Let’s do something for this senior class because they are hurting in certain areas,’” says Currie, a retired commercial insurance product developer and healthcare manager. “Mr. Jackson made sure we had our pep rally’s on Friday afternoons, even if we didn’t have a game to attend. He also orchestrated our senior class trip to Washington, D.C. during spring break, which served as yet another memorable diversion to the suspension.”

Bell, a graduate of the Metropolitan School of Practical Nursing at Vanderbilt Hospital and a retired licensed practical nurse, says in spite of the security and assurance they received from parents and community members, the unfair punishment left a lasting impression on their class.

“At the time, we were all young. We had no idea what a big deal this was. We lived in a neighborhood where we had a lot of black support, like our parents and our teachers,” says Bell. “Once this happened, that’s when I really found out that I was considered a second class citizen.”

Schlicher says the documentary, which was funded in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission THRIVE program, needs to be viewed by a broad audience because of its historical significance.

Featured are (front row, l to r) Aaron Finley, Fletcher Moon, Tamiko Robinson Steele, Shawn Whitsell (back row, l to r) Co-Producer Lisa Venegas, Mark Schlicher, Shanika Gillespie, camera operator Keevan Guy at Seay-Hubbard UMC upstairs meeting room. (Photo Submitted)

“It was an honor to be able to do the 25 or so interviews that were done with class members and with teachers, to learn the story and share it in a way that honored the struggle and the triumph that the Class of ’69 went through and the place they have in the civil rights struggle in Nashville,” says Schlicher, whose work as director or cinematographer has been shown nationally on PBS, the Smithsonian Channel, Lifetime, and TBN.

After receiving rave reviews from classmates following the film’s initial viewing, and subsequently winning “Best of Tennessee” at the 2019 International Black Film Festival, the group realized the film could serve a larger purpose.

“We want to put this documentary in every public library and to be able to hand it to school systems,” says Gray, a retired licensed clinical social worker.

They believe the documentary will spark important conversations about education, policy, neighborhoods and equity, as well as bring awareness.

Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Enoch Fuzz agrees. He plans to air the film at Kingdom Café, located at 2610 Jefferson Street, on February 1, at 8:00 a.m. during One Nashville, a breakfast gathering he initiated two years ago to bring people with resources, information and awareness together to help progressive projects like “The Past Is Prologue” succeed.

Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Enoch Fuzz (Photo Submitted)

“I was very touched by the story that these people told, and I know that it could benefit some of the people in Nashville. There are some good people in Nashville who want to understand race relations,” says Fuzz.

He says One Nashville gatherings, which are held every month on first and third Saturdays, have attracted leaders from throughout the city including the mayor, vice mayor, secretary of state, public defender and city council members.  He says some attendees are looking for meaningful projects to support, while others come seeking assistance.

“I was having people call me everyday with different needs, and I said these people need to meet one another. So rather than me meeting with everybody differently everyday, I came up with the concept of getting everyone in the same room,” says Fuzz.  “One Nashville gets people from all over the community in the same room.”

Mary Jackson Owens, the Cameron alum who told Fuzz about the project, hopes the film can garner financial support, so young people can learn about this almost forgotten moment in Nashville’s civil rights struggle.

“It hasn’t been talked about in 50 years. It’s time to have a conversation about it, and tell people about the history,” she says. “A lot of our children don’t know anything about being in an all-black school and the loyalty that we have for Cameron.”

“The Past Is Prologue: The Cameron Class of 1969,” also features TSU alum Ola Hudson and TSU Associate Professor and Head Reference Librarian Fletcher F. Moon.  Hudson, who graduated from TSU with a bachelor’s  degree in Vocational Home Economics in 1951 and a master’s degree in 1953, taught at Cameron High School from 1955 until 1971.  Moon, who portrayed his father, Rev. J.L. Moon, in the documentary, has worked at TSU for 36 years. 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 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.

More Than 700 Student Volunteers Participate in MLK, Jr. Day of Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –More than 700 students gathered in Kean Hall Saturday before being bused to various locations throughout Nashville to volunteer as part of the annual Joint Day of Service in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Students from several institutions throughout the city registered for the event and enjoyed an early lunch before being greeted by university leaders and hearing Freedom Rider and TSU Alum Ernest “Rip” Patton share inspiring words about his experience as a civil rights activist.

Freedom Rider and TSU Alum, Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton, share inspiring words about his experience as a civil rights activist during one-on-one interview with TSU Sophomore Aubrey Sales.(Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media)

“This is your day, and this is your time to make a change because what we did in the 60s, we did if for generations to come,” said Patton, who attended Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial University, where he served as drum major with the Aristocrat of Bands.  Patton was one of fourteen students expelled from Tennessee A & I by the Tennessee Board of Regents for taking part in the Freedom Rides. He subsequently received an honorary doctorate from TSU in 2008.

“I did it for you. I’m using I as a plural. I made a change for you. I took a chance on my life.  I went to jail. I went to prison. And I’m still out there trying to make a change, but it’s up to you to carry the torch,” he said. “And not only that, when you make a change, you are making it for the generations that come after you.”

Volunteers gathered in Kean Hall before being bused to various locations throughout Nashville as part of the annual Joint Day of Service in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

Shirley Nix-Davis, director of Outreach for TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, said bringing the students together for this service activity gives them an opportunity to consider the importance of service and how they can help others.

“It’s important to bring the students together just because that was one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dreams, to see every race, every ethnicity, every color of person come together for one cause,” said Nix-Davis.

Volunteers were dispersed to work at 25 sites throughout the city, including Salama Urban Ministries, Schrader Lane Vine Hill Child Care Center, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and Tennessee Prison Outreach Ministries.

Participating educational institutions included TSU, Meharry Medical College, Fisk University, Lipscomb University, Vanderbilt University, Belmont University Trevecca Nazarene University and Nashville State Community College.

Brittanie Pruitt, a sophomore nursing major, volunteering at Harvest Hands Community Development as part of the annual Joint Day of Service in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

Brittanie Pruitt, a sophomore nursing major from Covington, Tennessee, who returned after participating in the day of service last year, said community service is critical.

“It’s definitely important to give back. Everybody needs a helping hand,” said Pruitt who spent her afternoon with a group of 25 volunteers organizing classrooms at Harvest Hands Community Development, a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programming in South Nashville. “You might need help one day, so it’s always important to give back.”

TSU Alum Chartrice Crowley serves as the director of Elementary Programs at Harvest Hands. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

Chartrice Crowley, director of Elementary Programs at Harvest Hands, said the volunteers helped organize a collage, featuring Freedom Riders from Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi as well as the organization’s historically Black college and universities’(HBCU) classrooms.

“All of our classrooms where our kids are when they arrive here are named after HBCUs,” said Crowley who graduated from TSU in 2015 with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. “The volunteers are working on the information that will go outside the classroom about the founding of the school, their athletic programs, famous graduates, and all of that.”

Nix-Davis, who served as co-chair of the event along with Vanderbilt University Assistant Director of Active Citizenship and Service Meagan Smith, said 326 of 715 students who signed up for the event were TSU students.

Volunteers organizing classroom at Harvest Hands Community Development as part of the annual Joint Day of Service in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

“I am really really pleased about the turn out because it is raining,” she said. “We have some eager students who are ready to go out and do their thing for their universities.”

Other dignitaries in attendance at the morning kick-off included Congressman Jim Cooper, State Senator Brenda Gilmore and Metro Council member Burkley Allen.

For more information about TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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.

Future Dentist Says TSU Has Made Her A Better Leader

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When A’yadra Rodgers began her search for a high quality educational institution, she placed Tennessee State University at the top of her list.

She says it was her relationship with Carlos Houston, president of the East Tennessee chapter of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, that sealed the deal.

“I actually babysat for him,” says Rodgers. “He would always say things like, ‘Have you been looking at TSU?”

Houston’s persistence paid off, and Rodgers set her sites on becoming a TSU Tiger.

A’yadra Rodgers (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

“Tennessee State was the first school I applied to and the first school I got accepted to,” says Rodgers, who graduated from Knoxville Catholic High School in 2017.

Rodgers says Houston played a major role in helping her secure a full scholarship to attend TSU.

After a transparent conversation with Houston’s wife Sheryl, who graduated from Tennessee State with a degree in engineering, Rodgers approached Houston about her need for financial assistance.

“Once she told me her grades and ACT score, I told her to let me make a phone call, and the rest is history,” says Houston, who graduated from TSU in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

“She got a full scholarship the next day, which was fantastic, but her GPA and test scores made her deserving of it,” he says. “She and her mother expressed in tears how grateful they were, and A’yadra said she would not let TSU down.”

Carlos Houston, president of the East Tennessee chapter of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association. (Photo Submitted)

A junior dental hygiene major, Rodgers entered the university with the desire to become a nurse.  However, her aspiration changed as she became more aware of her true passion.

“When I first got here I had my mind set on nursing, and then I began to look more into it. I started to shadow, and I realized it wasn’t for me,” she says. “Then I started to think, ‘what do I love? Where do I like to go? Where am I around?’ And it was the dental office.”

After taking time to shadow her mother who works as a dental assistant, as well as watch the dental hygienists who work with her mother, Rodgers changed her major to dental hygiene and immediately began to excel. During her first semester in the program, Rodgers’ classmates elected her as class president and the Student Dental Hygiene Association’s first year recording secretary.

Rodgers also joined the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc., an organization that she says gives her an opportunity to participate in breast cancer awareness walks, make donations to Second Harvest Food Bank, and volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House of Nashville.

A’yadra Rodgers (second from left) poses for photo with other members of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club, Inc. after volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of Nashville, a charity organization that provides essential resources and a “home-away-from-home” for families of critically ill children receiving inpatient or outpatient medical care at Nashville area hospitals. (Photo Submitted)

“Being involved in this organization has been a blessing, helping me to become a leader in all aspects of my life,” she says.

Brenda J. Kibbel, assistant professor of Dental Hygiene, says Rodgers is an exceptional student.

“I expect great accomplishments in Ms. Rodgers’ future endeavors because of her compassion and involvement,” says Kibbel. “I just see so much potential in her as a young woman, and I expect great things.”

Rodgers, who plans to double major and earn an additional degree in health information management at TSU, says she plans to become a dentist.

“My goal is to go to dental school at Meharry Medical College. After that I can decide if I want to be an orthodontist, or anything beyond that,” she says. “I do want to do some work outside of the U.S., so I am looking at Africa.”

She credits her parents with inspiring her to succeed.

“I feel like they are always working to make sure me and my siblings are OK, and so just seeing that work ethic and how they are really trying their best is inspiring,” says Rodgers.

A’yadra Rodgers

Kibbel, who worked as a dental hygienist for years after completing her degree through a joint program between TSU and Meharry Medical College, says the career landscape for dental hygienists is vast.

“We now in this state can do independent practice coming under a dentist or we can work on our own in nursing homes. You can be an educator. You can be a researcher. There are a lot of job opportunities.  It’s good money, and it has flexibility,” says Kibbel.

Brenda J. Kibbel, TSU assistant professor of Dental Hygiene (Photo Submitted)

She encourages students who want to become dental hygienists to visit the department of Dental Hygiene.

“I’m really proud of our school. Our department strives to not make them just great students and pass the program, but to become great human beings who will be assets to our society, as well as the healthcare profession.”

Tennessee State University’s Dental Hygiene Clinic is located in Clement Hall on the main TSU campus. It provides a wide range of dental services to nearly 600 patients a year at reduced cost. This includes the campus, as well as the greater Nashville community.

To learn more about the Department of Dental Hygiene, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/dentalhygiene/.

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 students, officials believe FUTURE Act long overdue for HBCUs, and will provide much needed boost for sustainability

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University and the nation’s other historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) look to reap the benefits of federal legislation that permanently allocates $255 million to the institutions. 

TSU President Glenda Glover

Last month, Congress passed the FUTURE Act to provide for the historic funding. TSU students and officials say the bill is critical to the viability of TSU and other HBCUs.

TSU President Glenda Glover commended Congress for passing the legislation and hopes it will lead to additional funding.

“The FUTURE Act legislation is a game changer for TSU, and the university is thankful to our Tennessee leadership of Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative Jim Cooper, Congressional Black Caucus members and others for their guidance to ensure the bill passed through both chambers,” says President Glover.

“I personally made calls to Sen. Alexander’s Office, advocating the need for HBCU funding because of the tremendous impact TSU has in changing the lives of our students, the community, state and nation. I also spoke regularly with other HBCU presidents and assisted advocacy groups United Negro College Fund, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in higher education in getting the bill passed.  HBCUs have been traditionally underfunded on all levels of government.”

“TSU is fortunate to have relationships with local and state lawmakers that have resulted in much needed appropriations. I believe the FUTURE Act is the beginning of the tide changing in the amount, and types of funding HBCUs receive.”    

The FUTURE Act not only provides permanent funds to HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, but also simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and eliminates paperwork for income-driven student loan repayment plans.

“We believe it’s a really important piece of legislation,” says Amy Wood, assistant vice president for financial aid at TSU. 

The legislation eliminates up to 22 questions on the FAFSA and allows the Internal Revenue Service to share applicants’ tax information directly with the U.S. Department of Education. It also automates income recertification for federal student loan borrowers who use income-based repayment plans.

“Being able to eliminate some of the processing time allows us more time to spend counseling students and ensuring that they have what they need,” adds Wood.

Mariah Rhodes, a junior at TSU majoring in political science, says she’s pleased the legislation may soon become law. It has been sent to the President, who is expected to sign it. 

“HBCUs have produced some of the best African-American doctors, lawyers, politicians and engineers,” says Rhodes, a Memphis native who is an HBCU White House ambassador. “This money will help HBCUs in a tremendous way.”

Her mother agrees.

“They (HBCUs) are underfunded, and we need to really do something about that,” says Denise Woods.

TSU Dean of Students Frank Stevenson called the legislation a “game changer.”

“HBCUs are still seeing a number of first generation college students, and funding is really important to the success of these institutions that have done so much to move the needle toward equity and opportunity for higher education for students,” says Stevenson.

Last year, TSU received $2 million to support retention of academically high achieving students from underserved communities.  

The funds were included in Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s budget during the latest legislative session, and approved by state lawmakers.

For more information about the FUTURE Act, visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2486/text.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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.

Hundreds attend MLK convocation featuring MSNBC political analyst Joy-Ann Reid

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Hundreds of people attended Tennessee State University’s annual convocation on Monday to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

TSU President Glenda Glover speaks to gathering before march. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

Despite the bitterly cold temperature, quite a few people turned out for the march that started in front of Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church and ended at TSU’s Gentry Complex, where the convocation was held. The keynote speaker was MSNBC political analyst and author, Joy-Ann Reid.

TSU President Glenda Glover set the tone for the convocation in her greetings.

“We’re here because we understand if ever there was a time that we needed each other, that time is now,” said Glover, who is also the international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the primary sponsor of this year’s convocation.

“We honor Dr. King and those leaders that he inspired to continue the struggle for equality.”

Marchers line up to head to convocation at Gentry Complex. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

Reid echoed Glover’s sentiment in her speech when she said people need to continue fighting for racial justice, economic justice, and not just recite King’s speeches.

“We have to ask ourselves, what have we done with this legacy?” said Reid. “America right now needs to get motivated, not to quote King, but to live the dream he was fighting for.”

The convocation was attended by community leaders and lawmakers, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, and his brother, Nashville Mayor John Cooper.

“What he hoped for is not complete,” said Lee. “We, being here today, continue that dream that he had that isn’t finished in this country.”

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated attend convocation. (TSU Media Relations)

On Saturday, TSU hosted the MLK Joint Day of Service with seven other universities and colleges. More than 700 students gathered in Kean Hall before being bused to various locations throughout Nashville to volunteer as part of the annual event.

Students enjoyed an early lunch before being greeted by university leaders and hearing Freedom Rider and TSU Alum Ernest “Rip” Patton share inspiring words about his experience as a civil rights activist.

“This is your day, and this is your time to make a change because what we did in the 60s, we did if for generations to come,” said Patton

Brittanie Pruitt, a sophomore nursing major from Covington, Tennessee, who returned after participating in the Day of Service last year, said community service is critical.

Brittanie Pruitt, a sophomore nursing major, volunteering at Harvest Hands Community Development as part of the annual Joint Day of Service in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)
 

“It’s definitely important to give back. Everybody needs a helping hand,” said Pruitt, who spent her afternoon with a group of 25 volunteers organizing classrooms at Harvest Hands Community Development, a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programming in South Nashville. “You might need help one day, so it’s always important to give back.”

Shirley Nix-Davis is director of outreach for TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement and co-chair of the Day of Service. She said 326 of 715 students who signed up for the event were TSU students.

To learn more about TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

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 President Glover Encourages Community to ‘Stand Strong’ at 8th Presidential Prayer Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover provided encouraging words of perseverance at the 8th annual Presidential Prayer Service on Jan. 8.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper thanked President Glover for her leadership. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Glover was the keynote speaker, as TSU and the Nashville faith-based community joined hands to begin the New Year with a morning of prayer at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church. 

Faith-based leaders of various denominations from across Metro Nashville, as well as Mayor John Cooper, Vice Mayor Jim Shullman, and TSU alum and gospel legend Dr. Bobby Jones, participated in the program. Also participating was Bishop Joseph Walker III, chairman of the TSU Board of Trustees and presiding bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International. 

During her speech, Glover encouraged the gathering — community, state and local leaders and citizens, TSU staff, administrators, alumni and students — to “stand” in the face of difficulties.

A cross-section of faith-based leaders participated in the 8th Annual Presidential Prayer Service at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

“There will be difficult days in accomplishing goals, when others will challenge you and or doubt you, but you must stand and be steadfast,” Glover said. “We had some ups and downs, we had some trials and tribulations, but we are here. We are thankful for people who have stood up for TSU.”

Before Glover’s presentation, Mayor Cooper thanked her for her leadership, and the community for coming together in prayers for the city, TSU and residents.

Darrien Phillips, a TSU senior commercial music major, performs a musical rendition at the prayer service. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

“Dr. Glover, this is your day as you go into your eighth year as president of Tennessee State University,” Cooper declared. “The city of Nashville and I thank you for all you have done for not just this community but across the nation. TSU graduate students, teachers, engineers, to name a few, continue to nurture our students that come from TSU to go out near and far. The city of Nashville is so fortunate to have you here. We thank you for this annual prayer service.”

Following Glover’s address, ministers offered prayer in several areas, including peace, the global community, the Nashville community, children and youth, and the TSU community.

Rev. Aaron X. Marble, pastor of Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, presided over the program. He praised Dr. Glover for her leadership and said the annual prayer service “is a wonderful tradition that she’s established.”

The prayers concluded with the Rev. Derrick Moore, pastor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, praying fervently for Glover as various ministers gathered around her in a display of unity and support.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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.

President Glover addresses student success, unveils ‘Decade of Excellence’ platform at spring Faculty-Staff Institute

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover on Monday lauded faculty and staff for their service, and assured them the institution is poised to accomplish great feats for 2020, and beyond.

Dr. Glenda Glover

Dr. Glover spoke at the spring Faculty and Staff Institute, a customary State of the University address held to commence the start of each academic school year. Her address commended employees, and touted fiscal strength and student success.

In thanking employees for their hard work, she pledged her continued support, and encouraged them to strive to make the university better.

“I’m here for you,” said Glover. “I just ask that you show up every day and do your best.”

She reminded them that includes doing all they can to help students succeed.

Glover noted that from 2018 to 2019, the GPA of incoming freshmen increased from 3.10 to 3.14. The university also implemented a targeted recruitment plan for high school students with a 3.0 or better to improve retention and graduation rates. Students’ GPA has steadily risen since TSU increased admission standards in 2016. All students must now have a 2.5 GPA and a 19 on the ACT for admission. The previous admission scores were 2.25 or a 19 on the ACT for in-state students, and a 2.5 or 19 ACT for out-of-state students.

The president also stressed the university’s fiscal soundness and plans to continue the trend. She discussed an endowment increase of $19.3 million over a five-year period, and a net increase of $15.7 million for reserve and endowment funds during the same time span.

Over the next 10 years, in what she called TSU’s Decade of Excellence, Glover said she envisions an endowment of $150 million and $100 million in reserves. She would also like to see TSU be the top HBCU in the nation, with an enrollment of 12,000.

The president also talked about TSU’s sanction by its accrediting body and gave a detailed update on the “plan of action” to address the issue. She emphasized to the several hundred in attendance that it is important to dispel any misconceptions and that TSU never lost accreditation.

Corrective steps taken so far under the plan include the university retaining a nationally known firm with expertise on accreditation matters and hiring a full-time director of assessment and accreditation to guide the process internally.

“We are 100 percent confident that TSU will do all that is required to prepare and submit the documentation that is necessary to remove us from probation,” said Glover. “Everyone is working together to get this done.”

TSU’s landscape will change over the next few months when construction of the new health sciences building is complete. The president shared the latest information on that, as well as planned construction of two new residence halls. Groundbreakings were held for the three buildings, along with a welcome center, during homecoming last year.

Glover also touted a major accomplishment for TSU in 2019 that is carrying over to the New Year: its coding partnership with tech giant Apple, Inc., which is drawing global attention.

In July, TSU launched HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Create,” which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities and underserved communities. The initiative is part of TSU’s newly established National Center for Smart Technology Innovations, created through the HBCU C2 Presidential Academy. 

The undertaking to bridge the technology divide has not gone unnoticed. President Glover told the audience that the university and Apple’s corporate office have received several inquiries about the program.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is among the initiative’s champions.

“Anything is possible when people come together with a shared vision,” Cook tweeted. “Thank you to @TSUedu for your leadership and enthusiasm in bringing coding to your community and HBCUs nationwide!”

The institute marks the beginning of the academic semester. Students return on Jan. 13.

For more information about TSU’s coding initiative, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/hbcuc2/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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.

Slim & Husky’s-Atlanta Recognized by AJC On List of City’s Top 2019 Restaurant Openings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Slim & Husky’s, the famous hip hop pizza franchise founded by three Tennessee State University alums, recently received recognition from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the “notable metro Atlanta restaurant openings of 2019.”

Clinton Gray III, Derrick Moore and Emmanuel “E.J.” Reed, all 2007 graduates of TSU, debuted the restaurant’s first Atlanta location in early May on Howell Road, offering teachers free pizza and a sneak peak at the venue. The owners say they plan to open a second Atlanta location on Metropolitan Parkway in Adair Park.

Plans have also been made to offer their unique array of pizza at new locations in Memphis, Chattanooga, Birmingham (Alabama), Austin, Houston and Louisville.

In 2010, Gray, Moore and Reed took their vision, passion and the almost $3,000 they had between them and paid a visit to the Nashville Business Incubation Center at the TSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic development. Within seven years they had built a multi-million dollar moving company that set the stage for opening the first location of Slim & Husky’s Local Pizza Beeria, at 911 Buchanan St., in 2017.

“We just wanted to provide something that would give the neighborhood some hope and also be inclusive to those who are first time homebuyers in the area,” Gray said then. “ We just want to bring everybody together over some good pizza.”

In December, the Metropolitan Nashville City Council recognized the trio with a resolution for  “winning the National Cheese Pizza Contest on Good Morning America, and for creating jobs and food options in underserved areas.”

With the vision of fusing pizza, hip hop and art, Gray, Moore and Reed have created a thriving restaurant that provides some of the best gourmet pizza in the nation as well as economic opportunities for college students.

For more information about Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria, visit https://slimandhuskys.com .

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.

Toys For Tots Brings More Than 2,000 Parents To TSU Campus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University continues to keep community service at the center of its mission this holiday season.

On Dec. 21, more than 2,000 parents walked away with toys for their children during the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots distribution on the TSU main campus.

Thousands of toys of different sizes and shapes, for boys and girls up to age 12, were collected and distributed.  Volunteers, including TSU students, staff, alumni, and representatives from area charitable organizations and churches, helped with the distribution in Kean Hall.

Parents excited to receive toys for their children waited patiently in a line that extended outside Kean Hall. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

This event stems from a partnership between TSU and the Marine Corps Reserve in its annual toy distribution program. Prior to Saturday, TSU served as the official drop-off center for donated toys.

Christopher Terry, a senior electrical engineering major with a minor in computer science, served as a volunteer at the event, helping parents to gather and secure toys for their children.

Terry, a Memphis-native whose community service group, Generation of Educated Men, volunteered at the event last year, said assisting with Toys For Tots gives him an opportunity to spread joy during the holiday season.

“Growing up in Memphis I did this with my church, and it just feels wonderful being able to do this now at an older age,” he said. “I just love the fact that TSU continues to be a pillar for the Nashville community by giving back and supporting the communities around us.”

Associate Dean of Students, Dr. William Hytche(right), coordinator of the Toys for Tots program for TSU, with Christopher Terry(left), a senior electrical engineering major with a minor in computer science who volunteered for the event, and Benetta M. Sears(center), the local director of Simply United Together Foundation. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

As part of the partnership with the Marine Corp – the first with a university in the Nashville, Davidson County area – TSU received unwrapped toys for children up to age 12.

Associate Dean of Students, Dr. William Hytche, coordinator of the Toys for Tots program for TSU, said Simply United Together, a non-profit that coordinates the pickup of donated toys from Toys for Tots, spearheaded bringing the program to TSU. He said this year the program served a more diverse group.

“We have Hispanics now. We have our Caucasian brothers and sisters who are coming in, and that’s because they have closed their centers.  So the demographics have changed this year,” Hytche said. “The director of Simply United Together was offered to go to other institutions who wanted this program, and they were offering a lot of incentives for her to come to their schools. She said, ‘No. I think Tennessee State University is where I want to be.’”

Benetta M. Sears, the local director of Simply United Together Foundation, said the number of families served at TSU this year has increased exponentially.

Benetta M. Sears(left), the local director of Simply United Together Foundation, with representatives from Nashville Noticias, a local media organization that assisted with recruiting parents for the Toys For Tots event. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

“Tennessee State University is very positive. This is a community school also, and the people here are more willing and ready to serve the Nashville community as it grows and we have exploded,” she said.

Sears said she hopes the parents who participated will one day encourage their children to attend Tennessee State University.

For more information on Toys for Tots at TSU, call Dr. William Hytche at 615-963-5069.

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 Remembers Former Educator and Civil Rights Pioneer Carrie Gentry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Carrie Gentry, a civil rights activist and TSU educator, died Saturday. She was 95.

Carrie Gentry, right, with her son, Howard Gentry, Jr., was a pioneer in the nonviolent civil rights movement in Nashville. (Courtesy Photo)

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
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.