Civil Rights Leader Al Sharpton and Professor and Bestselling Author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson to Speak at TSU Dual Commencements

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Renowned activist and civil rights leader, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and Georgetown University professor and bestselling author, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, will be the commencement speakers at Tennessee State University’s dual spring graduation ceremonies.

Sharpton will speak on Friday, May 3, at the graduate commencement ceremony in the Howard C. Gentry Complex, beginning at 5 p.m.

On Saturday, May 4, Dyson will address undergraduate students in Hale Stadium. The ceremony will begin at 8 a.m.

Overall, more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will receive degrees in various disciplines.

Sharpton, a community leader, politician, minister and civil-rights activist, serves as the host of Politics Nation on MSNBC. With more than 40 years of experience as an advocate, he is one of America’s most renowned civil rights leaders. He has held such notable positions as the youth director of New York’s Operation Breadbasket, director of ministers for the National Rainbow Push coalition, and founder of his own broad-based progressive civil rights organization, the National Action Network.

Known for taking up the fight on behalf of the underdog in his pursuit of justice and equality, Sharpton is no stranger to TSU. In 2014, he came to the university to take up the cause to have TSU’s 1957- 1959 Men’s Championship Basketball Team, the first-ever to win three national titles back-to back, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

He joined university officials and staff, including President Glenda Glover, state officials, community leaders and stakeholders, as he presented his cause during a ceremony in Kean Hall.

As a result of Sharpton’s efforts and that of many others including TSU alumnus Dr. Richard “Dick” Barnett, a member of all three teams, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on April 7 that the Tennessee State men’s basketball championship teams of 1957-59 will be one of 12 honorees in this year’s Class of 2019. The class will be celebrated at this year’s enshrinement festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts, September 5-7.

Dyson, the undergraduate commencement speaker, also known as a preacher and radio host, has authored or edited more than 20 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marvin Gaye and Hurricane Katrina. He has received several awards for his literary work, including three NAACP Image Awards and the Southern Book Prize.

Dyson’s book, “Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster,” for which he received the American Book Award, analyzes the political and social events in the wake of the catastrophe against the backdrop of an overall “failure in race and class relations.”

 A longtime educator, Dyson taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University and the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information on commencement, visit

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

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, premier historically-black land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU’s graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus boasts a top-notch Executive MBA Program. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at