NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 500 received undergraduate and graduate degrees Dec. 10 when Tennessee State University held its fall commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex on the university’s main campus.
Prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump gave the keynote address.
He told the graduates that with their degrees they have the foundation to chart any course in their lives.
“Many of you graduating today already have solid foundation from your upbringing,” Crump said. “With your graduation today, Tennessee State University has added value to that foundation that will determine your path and success in life.”
Crump is the noted Florida lawyer who represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Terence Crutcher in police shooting cases that made headlines around the world. Crump was also an advocate in the Robbie Tolan police brutality U.S. Supreme Court case, as well as the Martin Lee Anderson boot camp death case.
“You graduates are the very best that we have to offer. You are the hope of your grandfathers and grandmothers,” Crump said. “Like many before you, your are going to face situations you cannot control. But the only thing you can control is your attitude and your perspective at how you are going to address whatever situation you find yourselves in.”
On social justice, he referred to the graduates as “the fortunate ones” with the moral obligation to stem out injustices and abuse in their communities.
“You’re the ones who are going to have the good jobs, you have the education, you have the talent, and if you don’t speak up for our community, if you don’t stand up for our community, if you don’t fight for our community, then who will,” Crump said.
Jeremy Johnson, who received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, was touched by Crump’s assertion about abuse and injustice.
“His speech is a wake-up call to action,” Johnson said. “There is so much injustice around us everyday but many of us do nothing and behave as if everything is fine.”
TSU President Glenda Glover described Crump’s speech as “thought-provoking and very inspiring.” She congratulated the graduates for their accomplishment.
“You have endured and prepared yourselves to reach this goal which may have seemed unattainable, but you stuck with it,” Dr. 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.”
Ravyn L. Morgan, a criminal justice major, was recognized for graduating summa cum laude, with the highest grade point average. She was presented with the Student Academic Excellence Award for her accomplishment.
Department of Media Relations
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About Tennessee State University
With more than 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, 25 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.