Tag Archives: Dr. Learotha Williams

TSU offering course on history of HBCUS and their global impact

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is offering a course on the history of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their impact around the world.  

Dr. Learotha Williams, TSU history professor who will teach HBCU course.

The course starts this fall and is available to undergraduates and graduates. It provides a chronological and thematic study of the history of HBCUs in the United States from 1837 to the present, paying close attention to the ways they have influenced the social, economic, political, and intellectual life of African Americans in the U.S. and the impact their graduates have had on Modern America and the world.

“Along with President Glenda Glover, the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is excited to have initiated the effort to bring this course to fruition,” said Dr. Michael Harris, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. 

“This course offers students deep insight into the success of HBCUs and their impact on American society. HBCUs are the pillar of educational excellence, key institutional anchors for neighborhoods and communities, and foundational to the academic experience of African Americans.”

There are more than 100 HBCUs in the United States. They have pretty much always maintained a degree of popularity. But more attention was undoubtedly given to them when former U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a graduate of Howard University, began her run for vice president of the United States. And the spotlight on HBCUs has remained now that Harris has become the second most powerful person in the world.

“Needless to say, that we are excited about this course on the history of HBCU’s,” said Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU. “It is important to recognize and promote the rich history and impact of HBCUs.”

In the course, students explore the historic role that HBCUs have played in the development of the communities where they are located and the intimate relationship they cultivated with the residents of those spaces over time.

“I am excited about taking a scholarly look at these institutions,” said Dr. Learotha Williams, a history professor at TSU who is teaching the course. “I hope to provide a better understanding of the role of HBCUs in American society. Not only that, but the national and international impact they’ve had, particularly the individuals and social movements they’ve produced.”

To learn more about HIST 4325, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/history/.

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 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight 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.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris expected to have generational impact, say TSU president and others

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and other members of the TSU family say U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and what she has the potential to achieve will impact generations to come. 

TSU President Glenda Glover

The world tuned in to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to see the inauguration of Harris and Joseph Biden Jr., who became the 46th president of the United States.  

“Words cannot express how proud I was seeing Kamala Harris, an African-American woman and HBCU graduate, sworn in as vice president of the United States. This is a great day for our country, historically black colleges and universities, and for all of us!” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “African-American women have been the backbone of this country, and now an African-American woman has ascended to the second highest office in the nation; with the opportunity to create policies that will impact us for generations to come. I particularly look forward to legislation that will enhance TSU as a premiere institution and our entire HBCU family.”  

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis

Harris is now the nation’s first female vice president, first black vice president and first black female vice president.  

“From this day forward, it will be normal for a woman to be the vice president of the United States, for a black person to be vice president of the United States, and for a citizen of Asian descent to be vice president of the United States,” said Samantha Morgan-Curtis, a Women’s Studies faculty member and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU.  

“When we watched Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to sit on the Supreme Court, swear in Kamala Harris as the vice president of the United States, we recognized that representation matters and works. This lesson is as important for young men, as it is for the young women.” 

Senior Dominique Davis

Dominique Davis, the president of TSU’s Student Government Association, agreed.  

“Vice President Harris’ victory is exactly what the world needed to see transpire, especially African-American women,” said the senior business administration major from Danville, Illinois. “For far too long, African-American women have been underrepresented. However, Vice President Harris, along with many other power houses, have certainly began to shift that reality. I have faith that Vice President Harris will guide and elevate America as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times.” 

Dr. Learotha Williams, a history professor at TSU, said some now ask the question: Is Vice President Kamala Harris the most powerful woman in world history?  

Dr. Learotha Williams

“If one can make the argument that the United States—for reasons good and bad—is the most powerful nation in human history, then her place as vice president, as the last voice in the room before the president makes an important decision, and her position, which is but a metaphorical and physical heartbeat from the presidency, then the answer is yes,” said Williams. “Her position and the power associated with it are not titular or ceremonial, they are real.”  

Dr. Robert Elliott, head of TSU’s Department of Music, said he realized Harris’ impact on future generations while talking to his granddaughters – 9 and 10 – at breakfast before the inauguration was televised.  

“One told me, ‘This is like the first time in the history of the world that we will have a woman vice president,’” recalled Elliott. “The other said, ‘Yeah, and in four or eight years, maybe we will have the first woman president because all of the ones before were men.’ It is great to see these young girls feeling empowered and believing that there are no limits to what women can do or be.” 

Dr. Robert Eilliott and his granddaughters, Chloe (l), Leah (r).

Other women before Harris to seek the position of president or vice president include Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 became the first Black American and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, in 1984. In 2008, Alaska’s then-governor Sarah Palin was Republican John McCain’s running mate. 

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 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.

TSU experts say apprehension about COVID-19 vaccine based on history for African-American community

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the first coronavirus vaccine is distributed across the nation, African American health officials are working to ease concerns about the vaccine in black communities. 

Dr. Esther Lynch

African Americans are disproportionately getting sick and dying of COVID-19, but surveys suggest they’re more hesitant to get the vaccine than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. History is a big reason for that, experts say.

“That we shouldn’t trust the government is a message that’s been sent down from generation to generation,” says Dr. Esther Lynch, an assistant professor in Tennessee State University’s Psychology Department who specializes in integrated behavioral health and trauma in marginalized populations.

“It doesn’t matter what area we touch on, there’s always some sort of injustice that has happened when it comes to people of color in general.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine last week, and another vaccine was expected to be approved as early as Friday, Dec. 18. Dr. Lynch, along with History and infectious disease experts at Tennessee State University, say they understand the concern African Americans have about the vaccines, but seriously suggest everyone should get vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus, especially in communities of color. 

She notes the Tuskegee Institute syphilis study, where black men were deceived and were withheld treatment. Then there was the eugenics project in Mississippi where thousands upon thousands of African American women who went to state health facilities for routine medical procedures were sterilized without their knowledge.

“There’s just too much distrust,” says Lynch. 

Recent figures show Tennessee has seen an average of 8,760 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 71 deaths per day. It has the most confirmed cases per capita among states and D.C. during the same period. Tennessee has received nearly 57,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and a second shipment of close to that amount is expected in the next few weeks.

Dr. Learotha Williams

State officials say health-care workers and nursing home residents will receive the vaccines first; second in line are expected to be essential workers, teachers, and first responders; then individuals with pre-existing conditions, and those over age 65.

Health experts say the vaccines won’t work unless enough people take them to establish herd immunity, or when most of the population is immune to the disease.  So far, COVID-19 has killed more than 300,000 Americans, and millions worldwide. 

Dr. Learotha Williams, a history professor at TSU, says African Americans’ apprehension concerning vaccines in general is understandable, but that they should give serious consideration to taking those that fight COVID-19 because of how the virus “disproportionately affects us.”

He says a number of black health experts have expressed similar sentiment, such as Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who has been leading the effort to combat COVID-19. Corbett, a research fellow and scientific lead at the National Institute of Health, is working with a team of scientists studying Moderna’s vaccine, one of the two COVID-19 vaccines shown to be effective by more than 90 percent.

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

“The black doctors that I know, that I trust, I don’t see them suggesting something that would harm us,” says Williams, an expert on African American and public history. 

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, an infectious disease expert and director of public health programs in TSU’s College of Health Sciences, has some advice for those who have reservations about the COVID-19 vaccines.

“I don’t see any reason to be concerned, but if you are, just wait a couple of weeks, or days, before you take yours,” says Inman, who previously was chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee. “You’ll be able to see how people react to the vaccine.”

To learn more about the vaccines and how they will be administered, contact your local health department, or visit the Tennessee Department of Health’s website:  http://bit.ly/38aZrfX.

NOTE: Featured photo courtesy of Reuters.

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 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.

TSU political analysts discuss impact of presidential election on US Democracy, with record voter turnout and global attention

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University political analysts say it is too early to determine the impact of the recent presidential election on the nation’s Democracy. But they say the record turnout of voters indicates that many Americans believe their “voices matter.”  

President Trump’s allegations of voter fraud and his unwillingness to concede to President-elect Joe Biden has raised questions about whether his actions have eroded trust in the U.S. Democracy. There’s also concern countries watching what’s happening in the United States may start to question the concept of a democratic government.

Dr. Brian Russell

Political scientists say Trump’s unwillingness to concede, and his claims of voter fraud, are the beginnings of democratic erosion, where a system of government remains a democracy, but the norms and values that make democracy work start to be called into question. 

“His supporters have been primed this whole election season that if the election doesn’t turn out with Trump winning, then there’s been something nefarious going on,” says TSU political science professor Brian Russell, who is highly sought after because of his expertise on the Constitution and political issues.   

The latest voting figures show Biden with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Biden defeated him by more than six million votes in an election that had more than 150 million people vote, the most in U.S. history.

On Monday, the administrator of the General Services Administration formally designated Biden the winner of the presidential election, providing federal funds and resources to begin a transition and authorizing his advisers to begin coordinating with Trump administration officials. However, Trump still has not conceded.

“When he is questioning the process and implying that there’s been cheating going on all along, that starts to undermine our institutions. How deep does that go? I don’t know yet.”

However, Russell says one undeniable fact is the tens of millions of people that turned out to vote, which he says “is something positive” because it shows a lot of people still have faith in democracy.

Granted, he acknowledges the turnout was spurred by issues like the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice and the economy, but they came out nonetheless. 

Dr. Learotha Williams

“That says something about our system,” says Russell. “If we had this kind of crisis and people weren’t coming out to vote, that would be suggesting that they thought the system was ultimately corrupt and their voices didn’t matter.”

History professor and political analyst Learotha Williams says the high voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election also highlighted efforts at the grassroots level to get people to vote, which he called inspiring. One person he noted was attorney Stacey Abrams, who is credited with boosting Democrats in Georgia and turning the state blue. 

Abrams, a former state lawmaker who has worked on issues related to voting rights for a decade, became a household name in 2018, when she narrowly lost her bid for governor in a contest marked by allegations of voter suppression affecting mostly black voters.

“That was a tough loss,” says Williams, an expert on voting rights, as well as African American and public history. “But it motivated her to keep going, to keep pushing, which speaks to her resiliency. She came back strong, and turned Georgia.” 

To learn more about History, Political Science, Geography and Africana Studies at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/history/

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 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.

TSU to honor its veterans during virtual program, recognize United States Colored Troops

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will honor its veterans with a special virtual program on Nov. 11, despite the pandemic.

The University’s annual Veterans Day program is usually an in-person tradition, but the coronavirus changed that this year, as it has all of TSU’s activities. However, organizers of the virtual program next Wednesday say they expect it to be as spirit-filled as it has in past years.

 The United States Colored Troops Memorial, Nashville National Cemetery

“Despite COVID, we are going to maintain those traditions that are important to our culture, our community, and our nation,” says Dr. Evelyn Nettles, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at TSU. “It is important for us to always remember those who served and protected our democracy.”

Lt. Col. Nick Callaway, commander of the University’s AFROTC Detachment 790, is this year’s keynote speaker.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to recognize the veterans who are currently or were previously employed at the university,” says Callaway. “I also applaud TSU for taking the opportunity to recognize the brave men of the United States Colored Troops. Their fight for freedom in our country’s darkest hour should not be forgotten.”

The United States Colored Troops were regiments of African American soldiers raised by the Union Army during the American Civil War.  These troops – who made up about 10 percent of the fighting force in the Union Army – included free African Americans from the North and South, and men who lived their lives as enslaved persons before the war began. By the war’s end, the USCT were a part of the 180,000 African Americans who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War.

“For them, the war was a struggle for liberty, one in which they forced the nation to redefine its notions of freedom and equality under the law,” says Dr. Learotha Williams, a veteran and TSU history professor.

The United States Colored Troops Memorial, located in the Nashville National Cemetery, recognizes the service of the 20,133 black men who voluntarily served in the Union Army in Tennessee during the American Civil War.

To access the program on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 10:30 a.m. Central, visit https://zoom.us/j/96163866960?pwd=QkV0cXZGZzVOUkNReng5NHUyVksvUT09

Meeting ID: 961 6386 6960

Passcode: 812522

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 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.

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 Glenda Glover remembers Linda Brown, key plaintiff in the monumental Brown v. Board of Education case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover shares the sentiment of African American leaders and educators across the country as they mourn the death of Linda Brown, a key plaintiff in the monumental Brown v. Board of Education case.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“Linda Brown will always be a reminder to young people everywhere that there’s no age limit on creating change,” said Glover. “Thrusted into the national spotlight as a little girl, Brown was at the center of the Brown v. Board of Education case that ended segregation in American schools. More than 60 years later, Tennessee State University, and other educational institutions across the country, continue to benefit from the sacrifice made by Brown and her family. She is an iconic figure in the Civil Rights Movement and should be celebrated as such, and recognized for her bravery. We have lost an essential part of our nation’s history, but it will never be forgotten.”

Historians say Brown, who died March 25 at the age of 76, and other plaintiffs in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case helped lay some of the groundwork for cases like the one involving Rita Sanders Geier in 1968.

It was the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s announcement of its plans for a Nashville campus that prompted Geier, then just 23 years old, to challenge the action in U.S. District Court. She claimed a full-fledged UT campus would divert state resources from Tennessee State University in Nashville.

The court eventually ordered a settlement that imposed racial goals for all Tennessee colleges. Both sides agreed to replace it with a stipulation agreement–the Geier Consent Decree.

“Rita (Geier) Sanders and the students involved in the struggle were heirs of the courage manifested by Linda Brown … and other countless children who were actors in the effort to break down racial barriers in America’s educational system,” said Dr. Leoratha Williams, an assistant history professor at Tennessee State.

In a recent interview, Geier said the ruling in Brown v Board of Education “changed the landscape completely in terms of educational opportunity,” and she joined Glover and Williams in lauding the bravery of Brown and other young people who endured the psychological trauma of trying to learn in a hostile environment.

“It was a cornerstone ruling that racial segregation in public education was illegal,” said Geier. “It significantly opened the door for higher education because the theories on which we based our higher education suit were founded in the cases that followed Brown in elementary and secondary education.”

Note: featured photo of Linda Brown courtesy of The New York Times

 

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, 25 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.

Tennessee State University hosts panel discussion on history, impact of HBCUs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University hosted a panel discussion Monday night about the history and impact of historically black colleges and universities.

Dr. Learotha Williams, assistant professor of history at TSU, and Dr. Reavis Mitchell, professor of history at Fisk University, participate in panel discussion. (photo by John Cross, TSU Public Relations)

The event in TSU’s Performing Arts Center was sponsored by TSU, Fisk and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Following the discussion, the PBS documentary, “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities,” was shown to the audience. The documentary first aired nationwide on Feb. 19.

“This documentary shows our purpose, this documentary shows our mission, this documentary shows our need,” TSU President Glenda Glover said during her greetings. “It shows we have risen.”

HBCUs have a history dating back to 1837, but most of them began as Freedmen’s schools after 1864, and grew to some 240 schools, colleges, and universities. Some 119 were eligible for collegiate accreditation by 1929. Today, there are about 100 accredited HBCUs – and their impact is felt nationwide, historians say.

“HBCUs … produce the vast majority of the professional class,” Dr. Learotha Williams, an associate professor of history at TSU and panelist, said before the event. “Doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers — If you search their economic background, you’ll see that in some way or another they were affiliated with an HBCU, either as an undergrad, or via graduate school.”

Mike Krause, THEC’s executive director, said the state is committed to helping Tennessee’s HBCUs reach their goals. He noted that Tennessee is the first state to have an HBCU initiatives director whose main objective is to focus on the needs of HBCUs.

“There’s no way that Tennessee reaches our goals as a state, unless we make sure that HBCUs reach their goals,” Krause said. “We want to make sure that HBCUs succeed.”

Krause added that HBCUs “offer students a special experience,” which Memphis native Marquis Richardson said attracted him to TSU.

TSU freshman Wateasa Freeman, aka “Writer’s Block,” does spoken word before panel discussion. (photo by John Cross, TSU Public Relations)

“It’s more black people, more black faculty, more black administration,” said Richardson, a junior majoring in business. “It’s good learning from African Americans who are knowledgeable in their field. It gives me motivation to do good in my field as well.”

TSU business major Marquis Richardson said Tennessee State’s nationally recognized programs and esteemed alumni attracted him to the university.

When Sydnie Davis was pondering what higher education institution to attend after graduating from high school, the Nashville native concluded she wanted an HBCU experience – a Big Blue one.

“When I got here, I fell in love,” says Davis, a fifth generation TSU Tiger now in her junior year. “I saw what my family had seen the many generations before me. I feel I’ve been able to succeed like no other, and the family atmosphere and love you feel on campus is overwhelmingly positive. HBCUS are one of the last safe havens for African American students.”

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, 25 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.