TSU Alum Amos Otis Honored with 2015 Rosa Parks Courage Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alumnus Amos Otis (’65) has been selected as a 2015 Rosa Parks Courage Award honoree. As part of the 60th anniversary observance of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted 382 days and set off the Civil Rights Movement, the Southern Youth Leadership Development Institute (SYLDI) and Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) honored Otis and other individuals during the “Evening to Remember” awards ceremony Dec. 4 in Montgomery, Alabama.

The event saluted those who have fought for civil rights in Alabama and across the nation and have made significant contributions to civil rights helping to raise the public’s awareness in the spirit of Rosa Parks, who once said, “Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.” Parks’ refused to give up her seat on a city bus Dec. 1, 1955.

“I am immensely proud to have been one of five people to receive the Legends Award during the gala,” Otis said. “This award acknowledged my inspirations gained from my community, and especially Mrs. Rosa Parks, through her defiance of the dehumanizing Jim Crow laws. My quest has been to equal their sacrifices and teachings by becoming a successful businessman and entrepreneur, then sharing my success with the institutions of my hometown, Montgomery, Alabama.”

Otis grew up in Montgomery in the same neighborhood as Rosa Parks, who often talked with him and other young children about “the achievements of their people – Negroes,” Otis said.

Along with Otis, other recipients included Southern Poverty Law Center Founder and CEO Morris Dees; U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan); civil and human rights activist Juanita Abernathy; and the Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Rodriguez, among others.

Emcees for the evening were TSU alumni Xernona Clayton (’52) and Dr. Bobby Jones (’59). Clayton was the first black woman to have a prime time talk show with “The Xernona Clayton Show” in 1967 while Jones, a Grammy winner, has hosted the longest-running cable television program, “Bobby Jones Gospel,” on BET.

“Why do I think that we need to celebrate the Montgomery Bus Boycott, because I think we truly changed world history,” Doris Dozier Crenshaw, civil right pioneer and founder of the SYLDI told the Montgomery Advertiser. “Rosa Parks was an advocate of education and community service. We work to bring together people who are doing things special in the community.”

Otis founded SoBran, Incorporated in 1987 after a distinguished 21-year career as an Air Force Officer. He led SoBran from a lean start-up in the basement of his Fairfax County, Virginia home to a $61 million company with diverse bioscience, engineering, logistics, and risk management expertise. Under his leadership, SoBran has reached Inc. magazine’s list of America’s fastest-growing private companies and Black Enterprise magazine’s list of the top 100 industrial/service companies. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University, an MBA from The California State University System, and a Master of Military Art and Science from Air University.

“As a successful businessman and graduate of TSU, Amos epitomizes the essence of a Tennessee State University Tiger,” said Cassandra Griggs, director of the TSU Office of Alumni Relations. “For more than 20 years, he has devoted his time through participation in roundtable discussions with students, his professional expertise as a Foundation Board member and his generosity through contributions to an endowment for student scholarships. We congratulate Amos on receiving the 2015 Rosa Parks Courage Award. He is most deserving.”

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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, 22 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.