NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As part of Black History Month celebration, Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam used her Read20 Family Book Club to pay tribute to legendary Olympic champion and Tennessee State University great Wilma Rudolph during a program Wednesday at the Edward S. Temple Track on campus.
Since February not only serves as Black History Month, but also the backdrop for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Haslam said she selected “Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman,” for her book of the month to inspire children about Rudolph’s story about overcoming adversity.
The book, a dramatic and inspiring true story illustrated in bold watercolor and acrylic paintings, highlights the TSU alumna and Olympian, who overcame a distinct illness to win three gold medals.
“Wilma Rudolph made an incredible impact on society for African Americans, for women and for all people who have hurdles to clear,” Haslam said to members of the TSU track team, and more than 25 anxious and cheering members of Girls on the Run, a youth development program for girls in third through eighth grades.
“Her journey is particularly inspiring this month as we celebrate African-American history and enjoy the 2014 Winter Olympics,” she added
Joining Haslam at the program was former Olympic champion and head coach of the TSU track and field program, Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice, who thanked the first lady for selecting TSU for her book-of-the-month reading.
“We appreciate you coming on our campus to grace us with your presence, and for inspiring these students by highlighting the story of Wilma Rudolph, who was an inspiration to me as an athlete and so many others,” Cheeseborough-Guice said.
Also receiving special recognition at the program was Yolanda Kovan Rudolph, Wilma Rudolph’s eldest daughter, who is also a former TSU student.
Following the program, the students from Girls on the Run, under the direction of Coach Cheeseborough-Guice, performed drills with the TSU women’s track and field team.
“I am truly inspired by the first lady’s initiative,” said Charis Quarles, a sophomore Theater major from Nashville, who is manager of the TSU men and women’s track program. “It was really nice for her to be able to come and support these young children.”
As part of her effort to promote parent engagement in education, Haslam launched the Rdead20 Family Book Club nearly two years ago, giving Tennessee families a fun goal of reading together every day. Books of different reading levels and styles of writing are selected each month to help children foster love for reading and learning.
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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.