Use Education to Inspire Change and Impact Lives, TSU Commence Speaker Tells More Than 700 Graduates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “As TSU degree holders, you have been equipped with a high-quality education and the power to make a substantive change in the lives of people in your community and the world,” Dr. Shawn Joseph, a longtime educator, told the fall graduating class at Tennessee State University Saturday.

Joseph, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, reminded the graduates of the role TSU students played to bring about social justice and change in Nashville and across the nation during the civil rights movement.

President Glover accompanies commencement speaker, Dr. Shawn Joseph, during the procession in Gentry Complex. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“It was only 58 years ago that brave students, who walked the same halls you have walked on this sacred land, strived to create a more just and equitable America.” Joseph said. “Those students, equipped with the same degree that you are earning today, understood that their lives had a purpose.”

At the commencement ceremony in the Gentry Complex, more than 700 received degrees in various disciplines. They included members of the inaugural class of the TSU Executive MBA program.

In her welcome remarks, TSU President Glenda Glover thanked Joseph for agreeing to be the fall commencement speaker, and congratulated the graduates for their accomplishments.

“You have endured and prepared yourselves to reach this goal which may have seemed unattainable, but you stuck with it,” Glover said. “You must always remember that you did not accomplish this goal all by yourselves. There were parents, relatives, friends and mentors who helped you along the way. Remember to thank them.”

More than 700 graduates received degrees in various disciplines. (Photo by Lalita Hodge, TSU Media Relations)

In his speech, Joseph told the graduates that to be leaders for social justice, they must never be afraid to advocate for what is right, learn to persevere and be resilient, and remember that leaders serve people and purpose.

“Certainly, earning a degree is about educating yourself, and it is also about recognizing that you have a responsibility to help things go right for others,” Joseph said. “ Remember excellence comes from within, not from what you have. TSU has prepared you to find strength through your faith, your family, your friends and you can push forward. It’s not what people call you it’s what you answer to.”

Kelley Williams, a Nashville native, who received a bachelor’s degree in social work with high honors, said she was inspired by Joseph’s speech.

Undergraduate honorees celebrate by moving their tassels from right to  left  indicating their graduation from college. (Photo by Ramona Whitworth-Wiggins)

“I listened to every word keenly and especially what he said about the quality of a TSU degree,” said Williams, who plans on returning to TSU to pursue her master’s degree. “I love TSU and I am glad I came.”

Anthony Moreland, from Knoxville, Tennessee, who received his bachelor’s degree in biology, also with high honors, agreed with Williams on earning a TSU degree.

“Graduating today is a great accomplishment,” said Moreland, whose twin sister graduated from TSU a semester ahead of him. “Graduating for me is a big deal not only because I had to catch up with my sister but because I had a lot of family members who came here and did very well.”

Moreland plans on going to medical school, with Meharry Medical College his top choice.

NOTE: Featured photo by Ramona Whitworth-Wiggins

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 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.

TSU professor, students unveil historical marker recognizing victims of Nashville’s slave market

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A historical marker that recognizes victims of the second largest slave port in Tennessee was unveiled downtown Friday thanks to the efforts of a Tennessee State University professor and his students.

Dr. Learotha Williams next to marker. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations).

The marker is located at the corner of 4th Avenue North and Charlotte Avenue.

Preceding the Civil War, the space, which stretched to the city’s Public Square, was the center of slave trade in Nashville.

TSU President Glenda Glover joined state and local officials, historians and members of the community at the unveiling ceremony.

“We gather to honor the memory of hundreds of slaves who helped to build this city and state, laying the foundation for what we have become, one of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan areas,” said Glover.

Dr. Learotha Williams, an associate professor of history at TSU who spearheaded the erection of the marker, echoed her sentiment when he talked about the slaves and what they endured.

“We acknowledge your pain, we recognize your strength, and we honor your sacrifice,” said Williams.

He said the idea for the marker stemmed from a discussion in one of his classes about the history of Nashville’s slave market, and the trauma inflicted upon countless men, women and children when they were torn from their loved ones.

Williams said his students wanted to know why there wasn’t some type of memorial for the slaves. One student suggested to Williams: “Why don’t you write up a proposal; you can be the one to get it done.”

And so he did, with the help of his students and members of the community. The Tennessee Historical Commission approved the marker in June.

A cross section of city and state officials and residents join TSU President Glenda Glover (8th from left), and TSU history Professor Dr. Learotha Williams (5th from left) for the unveiling of a historic marker honoring the memory of victims of the slave trade. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Patrick McIntyre, executive director and state historic preservation officer for the Tennessee Historical Commission, attended Friday’s ceremony.

“This is the most significant marker to be erected during my years as director,” he said. “It’s a very serious and painful reminder of an everyday fact of life that existed in Nashville.”

The slave traders that lined the thoroughfare provided prospective buyers reliable access to enslaved blacks whom they bought, sold, or traded for their own use or resale in other areas of the Deep South.

“Nashville was the second largest slave port in the state,” said Williams. “So, if you’re looking at a black person from here that has roots in Tennessee, chances are their ancestors came in through that space.”

TSU history student Meshach Adams said the marker unveiling was a proud moment.

“It means a lot, having this recognition of what happened here, especially in remembrance of our ancestors,” said Adams, who is a senior in one of Williams’s classes. “It’s a beautiful moment.”

TSU senior Shayldeon Brownlee, who is also a student of Williams, said the marker will hopefully cause future generations to reflect on what happened there.

“Some people want to forget, especially in this day and age,” said Brownlee. “But it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a part of history, it’s a part of us.”

Chakita Patterson is the founder of United Street Tours, which provides African-American history and cultural walking tours in downtown Nashville. She plans to make the marker part of her tour.

“This is so important because a lot of the missing history and the hidden history in Nashville is now being uncovered,” said Patterson. “A lot of people don’t know how significant black history, and black culture is here.”

Dr. Bobby Lovett is a national historian and former TSU history professor. He said African-Americans arrived at Fort Nashborough (a forerunner to the settlement that would become the city of Nashville) in December 1779 with the first European American settlers. Enslaved and free blacks comprised about 26 percent of Nashville’s population by 1860. The sale of slaves ended once the Union occupied Nashville in 1862.

“A historical marker is appropriate for this sacred part of Nashville’s history, which reminds us that lessons of our past can help with understandings of the present, and guide us toward making better decisions in the future,” said Lovett.

To learn about Dr. Learotha Williams’s other endeavors, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nnhp/index.aspx

 

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.

TSU history professor, students get historical marker erected to remember victims of Nashville’s slave market

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A historical marker that remembers the victims of Nashville’s slave market has been erected downtown due to the efforts of a Tennessee State University professor and his students.

Dr. Learotha Williams

The marker will be unveiled at 12 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at the corner of 4th Avenue North and Charlotte Avenue.

Preceding the Civil War, the space, which stretches to the city’s Public Square, was the center of slave trade in Nashville. The slave traders that lined the thoroughfare provided prospective buyers reliable access to enslaved blacks whom they bought, sold, or traded for their own use or resale in other areas of the Deep South.

“Nashville was the second largest slave port in the state,” says Dr. Learotha Williams, an associate professor of history at TSU who spearheaded the erection of the marker. “So, if you’re looking at a black person from here that has roots in Tennessee, chances are their ancestors came in through that space.”

Dr. Bobby Lovett is a national historian and former TSU history professor. He says African-Americans arrived at Fort Nashborough (a forerunner to the settlement that would become the city of Nashville) in December 1779 with the first European American settlers. Enslaved and free blacks comprised about 26 percent of Nashville’s population by 1860. The sale of slaves ended once the Union occupied Nashville in 1862.

“A historical marker is appropriate for this sacred part of Nashville’s history, which reminds us that lessons of our past can help with understandings of the present, and guide us toward making better decisions in the future,” says Lovett.

Williams says the idea for the marker stemmed from a discussion in one of his classes about the history of Nashville’s slave market, and the trauma inflicted upon countless of men, women and children when they were torn from their loved ones.

Williams says one of his students asked, “Dr. Williams, why don’t we have a marker or something down there for these people?” He says he honestly didn’t know why. Then the student said: “Why don’t you write up a proposal; you can be the one to get it done.”

And so he did, with the help of some of his students. The Tennessee Historical Commission approved the marker in June.

TSU student Shayldeon Brownlee, a senior in one of Williams’ classes, says the marker will hopefully cause future generations to reflect on what happened there.

“Some people want to forget, especially in this day and age,” says Brownlee. “But it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a part of history, it’s a part of us.”

To learn about Dr. Learotha Williams’s other endeavors, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nnhp/index.aspx

 

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.

 

 

TSU President, Board Chairman and Administrator among Nashville’s 10 Most Powerful African-Americans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Three individuals that have prominent roles with Tennessee State University have made Music City’s power list for African-Americans. President Glenda Glover, the university’s Board of Trustees chairman, Dr. Joseph Walker III and Metro Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher are among Nashville’s 10 most powerful African-Americans in the recent edition of the Nashville Voice, an online publication.

Dr. Glover ranked No. 4, followed by Walker at No. 7 and Councilwoman Vercher at No. 9, respectively. The individuals named span a number of industries, from local government and banking to faith-based leadership and education. Criteria was based on: capacity, responsibility, singularity, respectability and consistency.

“They have made a career out of using their power and influence for the greater good of the urban community in Nashville,” according to the Nashville Voice.

Dr. Glover, who is also the international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, has led TSU since 2013. Under her leadership as the university’s first female president, student enrollment has continuously ranked among the highest amid the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. TSU has also experienced a significant increase in alumni fundraising, research dollars and academic offerings with her at the helm. Since taking over Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, she orchestrated a successful and historic philanthropic campaign for HBCUs by raising over $1.2 million in 24-hours for the institutions.

In addition to being chairman of TSU’s Board of Trustees, Walker is senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which has three locations in Nashville. He is also presiding bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International. Additionally, he serves on the board of directors for Meharry Medical College and Citizens Savings Bank.

Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher, who is also associate director of financial aid at TSU, chair’s the Metro Council’s Budget and Finance Committee. She is arguably the most powerful person on the Council, overseeing the city’s $2.2 billion budget.

To see the Nashville Voice story, visit http://www.thevoicenashville.com/news-politics/nashvilles-10-most-powerful-african-americans-2018/

 

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.

 

TSU Joins Toys For Tots Campaign In Partnership With U.S. Marine Corp

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the holiday season takes hold, Tennessee State University is making sure children in the area have something to cheer about.

The university is partnering with the United States Marines Corp Reserve in its Toys for Tots program this year.

The university will serve as the official drop-off and distribution center for donated toys. Officials say TSU was selected because of adequate facilities, and its accessibility to the community.

As part of the partnership – the first with a university in the Nashville, Davidson County area – TSU will receive unwrapped toys on its main campus for children up to age 12 now through December 14.

The Floyd-Payne Campus Center, Facilities Management Operations Building, and Parking Services Office in Hankal Hall will serve as the drop-off locations from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. each day.

Distribution will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15, in Kean Hall, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

More than 1,000 area children are expected to benefit from this year’s collection.

Simply United Together, a nonprofit that coordinates the pickup of donated toys from Toys for Tots, will also work with TSU and the Marine Corp to redistribute the donated items within the area.

“The Tennessee State University family is so excited to partner with the Marine Corp to support the Toys for Tots initiative that brings joy to so many children during the holiday season,” said Dr. William Hytche, associate dean for students and the TSU coordinator for Toys for Tots.

He said the partnership is an opportunity for recruitment and community engagement.

“TSU is a place that cares for the community and this is one way to let the community know that TSU is here for them. We see this as the beginning of a relationship that we hope to continue for a long time,” Hytche said.

Sgt. C. J. Bowling, Marine Corp training chief, is the coordinator for Toys for Tots. He said other institutions in the area have helped in the past with the toy drive, but TSU is the first university the Marine Corp is partnering with in its distribution effort.

“I like the opportunities that TSU offers,” Bowling said. “TSU was selected because it has the facilities to handle our traffic flow both for toy donation and access to people to be served. Moreover, people at TSU have been so gracious. From the associate dean, to the people in your facilities management and the Air Force unit, they have done everything we have wanted and requested.”

For more details on drop-off and distribution of  toys at TSU, call Dr. William Hytche at 615-963-5069.