Tag Archives: Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis

TSU Alumna named first Black woman judge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When TSU alumna Tionn Fambro Carter interned at the Tennessee State Capitol in 2004, she noticed a glaring lack of diversity in the House of Representatives. There was no reflection of her identity or her community’s demographics. The experience ignited her passion for public service, particularly drafting public policies that would positively impact her community. It also impacted Carter’s plans following her graduation from TSU.  

“I loved seeing all of the decisions being made and the new laws being created,” Carter recalled. “But I didn’t see a lot of representation of women of color. That’s when I thought, our voices need to be heard and represented. So, I decided to go to law school.”

In 2008, Carter earned her law degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and recently began her trailblazing role as a public servant. Carter was sworn in as the first Black woman associate judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit at the Rock Island County Justice Center in Illinois. “I remember being speechless and feeling overwhelmingly grateful,” she said.

Her journey to the bench was not easy. Carter persistently pursued the judgeship, applying seven times throughout her career before achieving success. Her faith and dedication paid off in 2024 with substantial support from her peers and community ultimately securing her appointment. As an associate judge, she now presides over both civil and criminal cases within her district.

Throughout her career, Carter aimed to inspire the youth to pursue their dreams. She noted that her journey of witnessing positive Black representation began at her alma mater. “Your goals are real TSU showed me that,” Carter said.

“TSU played a crucial role in my journey because as an HBCU, it really demonstrated the power of being proud of your heritage. I got to see African Americans in leadership positions, well-spoken, educated, and capable of achieving their goals, educating others, and leading their communities.”

Dr. Samantha Morgan Curtis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, expressed pride in Carter’s remarkable journey and significant milestone. “The College of Liberal Arts is incredibly proud of Tionne Fambro Carter, who epitomizes the capable, focused student we strive to cultivate and educate,” Morgan Curtis said. “She majored in English to hone her critical thinking, analytic skills, and writing abilities. She now stands as a model for all young women who follow her, continually making a positive impact on the world. I cannot say enough good things about her other than she embodies ‘Think, Work, Serve.’’”

Carter’s portrait now hangs in the Illinois courthouse alongside the judges who have presided over the district throughout the county’s history. Her presence among them reminds her of her TSU internship and her determination to make a difference.

“We come from a heritage and ancestry that has done great things,” Carter said. “And we can continue to be a part of that legacy too. Work hard for your seat at the table because you belong there just like everyone else,” she continued. “If you believe it’s your purpose, never give up on your dreams.

Carter resides in Rock Island County with her husband and children.

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/.

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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.