NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Local, state and national politicians, as well as community leaders and friends paid tribute to three legends from Tennessee State University today for their service to others at the 10th Annual James “Tex” Thomas Humanitarian Prayer breakfast.
The ceremony was held at Nashville’s Northwest Family YMCA.
Civil rights pioneers and educators, Inez Crutchfield and Carrie Gentry, as well as legendary Olympic and TSU women’s track coach, Ed Temple, were honored for their commitment to their students, the community and fighting for the rights of others.
“The people we honor today were pioneers in the classroom, on the track and in the civil rights movement,” said Lelan Statom, master of ceremony and News Channel 5 meteorologist. “It is fitting that we honor these local humanitarians for their contributions to the Nashville community.”
Crutchfield, an assistant professor for health education at Tennessee State University from 1949 to 1985, and Gentry, an educator and wife of Howard Gentry Sr., the 12th head football coach for the TSU Tigers, were involved in the nonviolent civil rights movement in Nashville during the 1960s. They later became involved in the League for Women Voters, and were the first African-American members of the Davidson County Democratic Women.
In accepting her award, Crutchfield gave thanks for the recognition, and added that she could not have done everything alone. She had the help of “a special friend.”
“You have been my best friend for 60 years Carrie,” she said. “We’ve done it together and I love you.”
Crutchfield said the recognition was an honor since it was coming from members of her own community.
“It is especially wonderful to receive this honor by people who know me, my struggles, and what we have been able to accomplish,” she said. “This means the world to me.”
Gentry, who came to then Tennessee A&I College in 1949 with her husband, taught rhythmic and modern dance at the University, and later, along with Crutchfield, 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),” she said. “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’s a tribute to my family who helped me succeed.”
TSU women’s and Olympic track coach, Ed Temple, was also recognized for his success on and off the track with the Tigerbelles and Olympic athletes during his 41 years at the University.
Temple led more than 40 athletes to Olympic competitions, bringing home a total of 23 Olympic medals (13 gold, six silver, and four bronze). His teams also won 34 national team titles and 30 Pan-American Games medals.
“His success on the track and in the classroom will never be matched,” said Alfred Degrafinreid, TSU alumnus and counsel for U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, as he spoke on behalf of Temple, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Also on the program was TSU legendary golf coach, Dr. Catana Starks, who spoke on the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the need for programs to help address the difficult task of overweight children and obesity.
The annual prayer breakfast is a Northwest Family YMCA fundraising event that benefits the Y’s annual Giving Campaign. Past honorees include community leader Richard Lewis and State Representative, Brenda Gilmore.
Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
About Tennessee State University
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 42 undergraduate, 24 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.