Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

TSU alum and Former POW meets widow of pilot who shot down his fighter jet in Vietnam

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University alum who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam recently returned to the Southeast Asian country and met the widow of the pilot who shot down his fighter jet nearly 50 years ago.

Lt. Col. James Williams sits in cell where he was interrogated and tortured while imprisoned. (Courtesy: Valor Administration)

Lt. Col. James W. Williams was flying his 228th combat mission when his F-4D Phantom was hit over North Vietnam on May 20, 1972. He was taken captive and spent 313 days in the infamous Hoa Lo Prison (aka Hanoi Hilton). He was released with other American POWs on March 28, 1973, about two months after the Vietnam War ended.

In November, the Memphis, Tennessee native was among several Vietnam veterans who returned to Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of a trip organized by the Dallas, Texas-based group Valor Administration, members of the Vietnam-USA Friendship, and North Vietnamese combat veterans.

Organizers said the trip was a way to help veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder possibly gain closure.

“There are a lot of Vietnam veterans … that still have wounds from the war that haven’t been addressed,” said Adriane Baan, with Valor Administration.

Williams, who was imprisoned a period of time with late U.S. Sen. John McCain, acknowledged it was therapeutic revisiting the place where he was tortured and meeting veterans who were once his enemy. But he said the highlight of the trip was meeting Nguyen Thi Lam, the widow of Do Van Lanh, the North Vietnamese pilot who shot him down.

Williams said he did not know he was going to meet Lam until he got to Vietnam, and that the meeting was awkward at first, but that changed the more they talked.

“I found out her husband died in 1980,” recalled Williams, who lives in Atlanta. “She showed me pictures of him. I expressed my condolences for his passing. The trip definitely helped me. It gave me some closure.”

During his visit to the prison, which is now a museum, Williams noticed a photo on display that showed two lines of air men being released. He was leading one of the lines.

Lt. Col. Williams in 1973 photo on display in the Vietnam museum. (Courtesy: Valor Administration)

“It was really amazing,” said Baan of the photo.

Lt. Col. Nick Callaway is the commander of Tennessee State University’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 790, which Williams was part of when he was enrolled at TSU. He recognized Williams at the university’s Veterans Day program last month.

“If there’s anything I learned from Lt. Col. Williams, it’s that we as human beings are capable of so much,” said Callaway. “Lt. Col. Williams’ patriotism and devotion to this great nation is truly an inspiration.”

Williams’ son, Brandon, said his father’s courage and perseverance while in captivity have motivated him when he faced adversity.

“Through any situation or circumstance, don’t give up,” said Brandon, a former TSU football player who is now a financial advisor for numerous professional athletes. “He’s my hero.”

After he retired in 1995 from 28 years of military service, Lt. Col. Williams started an Air Force Junior ROTC program in the DeKalb County, Georgia School System and taught for 20 years before retiring.

The 75-year-old currently serves on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs POW Advisory Committee.

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.

Award-Winning Filmmaker Returns to TSU To Premiere Latest Project “Wear The Crown”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Alum and Award-Winning Filmmaker Alan Nettles returned to campus on Dec. 14 to premiere his latest film project, “Wear The Crown.”

In ”Wear The Crown,” Nettles, who secured his Bachelor of Science degree in communication studies with a concentration in TV and film production from TSU in 2019, takes viewers inside the trying world of a family rocked by the news that their mother, Winnie Price, has been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer.

The Phoenix Troupe (Photo Submitted)

The evening began at 6:30 p.m. in the Cox-Lewis Theater with a pre-show performance by a group of creative artists called the Phoenix Troupe.

Filled with touching music and engaging subplots, “Wear The Crown,” which took five days to shoot, showcases various locations in Nashville, including Tennessee State University, Arlington United Methodist Church and Diamond Sound Studios. The crew also shot on location in Cadiz, Kentucky.

“Our preproduction was also very intense. We had about six weeks of rehearsals with the cast,” Nettles said. “We had a lot of different marketing events that we participated in from September until now.  We did a huge crowd-funder campaign, and there were just so many different things that we were doing to really bring this film to life.”

Alan Nettles, founder and CEO of Moving4ward Productions (Photo Submitted)

Nettles, founder and CEO of Moving4ward Productions, the company responsible for the film, said “Wear The Crown” features numerous TSU alums, including Lynn Summers who portrays Winnie Price and Pamela Bennett, who portrays Mrs. Alexander.

Summers said the film takes a close look at the dynamics of family relationships.

“This film mirrors true society today.  These are the trials and tribulations we go through each and every day,” she said.  “Regardless of what happens, family is family.  We should still love one another, and we should still get together.”

TSU Alum Lynn Summers portrays Winnie Price in “Wear The Crown.” (Photo Submitted)

“Wear The Crown” was produced by an all-female team which includes: Cillea Houghton, producer; Janice Wheaton, executive producer; and Sabrina Moore, line producer.  This is the first time all three have produced a film.

Moore, a former nuclear engineer who recently graduated from TSU with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications, said the film encourages people to take ownership of their lives, particularly their health.

“This film spotlights not only the issue of cancer, but of gender identity, depression and just how to accept yourself wherever you are in life,” she said.  “Deal with your issues. Deal with your health. Deal with your mental stability.  You can deal with it.  Everybody is dealing with something in some shape, form or fashion, so take ownership of your body and your life.”

Nettles, whose debut film “3 Blind Boys on the Block” was named Best of Fest at the 2015 Chi-Town Multicultural Film Festival, said witnessing his aunt, Tracey Reid, battle cancer inspired him to make the film.  He said the cast and crew worked tirelessly to produce a high-quality project that should strike a chord with anyone who has grappled with depression, grief or sickness.

“I’ve had to sacrifice life in order to breathe life into this production,” he said.

Nettles credits many of his professors at TSU, as well as his parents, with giving him the guidance and support necessary to achieve his creative aspirations.

“The faculty in the Department of Communications truly does care about its students, and if you allow them to love you, they will love you. You just have to be open to receive them,” he said.

Houghton said she hopes the film gives a voice to the voiceless.

“It’s shining a spotlight on important issues that I think will kind of resonate with everybody, from cancer to mental health, which is such a prominent issue today,” she said.  “We just really hope they feel that their voice is in this story, that their story is in this film.”

“Wear the Crown” also features performances by the Phoenix Troupe, a group of African-American singers and creative artists, including 2014 Essence Festival “You’re My Star” contest winner Megan Broadnax; Jeffrey White of gospel duo Same Seed; Lynn Echo, who appeared on former BET show “Bobby Jones Gospel,” along with Kyiara Jackson, Aundra Keo Brown and April Sledge.  

The premiere event also included a screening of the short film, “Loose Change,” written and directed by Moving4ward Productions  assistant director of Creative Development, William Jenkins.  

The event also honored cancer survivors related to members of the cast with the presentation of a special gift.

For more information about “Wear The Crown,” visit https://bit.ly/2PtbH1Z .

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.

College of Agriculture remembers students Judy Stanley and Vybhav Gopisetty

By Joan Kite

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a solemn ceremony laden with deep emotion, Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture recently remembered two of its graduate students who were killed in a hit-and-run accident on Thanksgiving night.

Bandana Bhusal and Bimala Acharya share memories about their roommate Judy Stanley who they said was like a sister to them. (Photo by Joan Kite)

Judy Stanley, 23, and Vybhav Gopisetty, 26, were pursuing food science degrees: Stanley a master’s, and Gopisetty a doctorate

About 150 people, including members from the Nashville Indian Community, the Indian Consulate, and St. Vincent de Paul Church, where Stanley was a member, attended the ceremony at TSU on Dec. 7 to show their support and share memories of the students.

“I’m going to miss him a lot,” said Gopisetty’s roommate, Sharath Julankanti. “He published four papers in a row as a master’s student. He was always busy.”

The ceremony allowed students to share their sorrow and happy memories in an event that was wrought with emotion.

“We never imagined that two big personalities would leave the world so soon,” said Stanley’s roommate, Bandana Bhusal. “May your beautiful souls rest in peace.”

Research technician and “lab mom” Yvonne Miles spoke of how Gopisetty and Stanley brought joy to the lab and how deeply felt their loss is.

“Our lab is a family,” said Miles.

“When we lose a student, a family member, it breaks our hearts,” added Rajesh Narayana Das, a member of the Nashville Indian Community.

After a meal of Indian food and a slide show presentation with photos of Gopisetty’s and Stanley’s lives in India and the United States, the students’ teachers talked about them.

“You will live in our hearts forever,” said Dr. Ankit Patras, a mentor to both Gopisetty and Stanley.

A GoFundMe account quickly raised more than $50,000 to send the students’ bodies back to India, where they were from, and assist their families.

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.

commencement Speaker Roland Martin encourages fall graduates to travel their own path

By Kelli Sharpe

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Parents and friends were welcomed to a festive fall commencement ceremony for nearly 800 Tennessee State University graduates Saturday morning.

Speaker Roland Martin urges graduates to “do you.” (TSU Media Relations)

Speaker Roland Martin wouldn’t have it any other way. The award-winning journalist and political analyst had the band director strike up the band before delivering his keynote address.

With the theme of “do you,” Martin encouraged graduates to follow their own path and be proud of having attended TSU.

“The people who are willing to take risks in life are the folks that are often brought back and are celebrated for being distinguished alumni of this university,” said Martin.

Merna Henin, a business administration major, graduates with the highest GPA. (TSU Media Relations)

“You’ll never be happy if you’re unwilling to do you. You can’t let fear drive your decision-making.”

TSU President Glenda Glover presided over the winter graduation that consisted of 513 undergraduates and 260 graduate students. Among them was Merna Henin, a business administration major with the distinction of having the highest GPA.  A native of Egypt, the Nashville resident had the honor of introducing Martin to the capacity filled crowd because of her academic achievement.

“I felt like I accomplished something spectacular and now I’m being rewarded for it,” said Henin, who plans to pursue her master’s at TSU and work in supply chain management. “It confirmed to me that hard work pays off.”

Approximately 773 graduates  participated in the TSU 2019 Fall Commencement Ceremony.  (TSU Media Relations)

Kalid Truitt, an interdisciplinary major with a concentration in health science and healthcare administration, said Martin’s message resonated with him as he prepares to leave TSU and Nashville. 

“What he said hit home for me,” said Truitt. “It was my last time to soak up the feeling that I’m at TSU. His energy and his words were exactly what I needed to see and hear, especially the parts about his own life experiences.” 

Truitt is off to Atlanta in a few days to pursue an acting career, but said he has a backup plan, something his professors and advisors stressed throughout his college experience. The Memphis native believes he got the perfect send off from TSU.

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.