Kick off UT Knoxville’s celebration of 50 years of African American achievement

by Torchbearer Staff January 24, 2011

Theotis RobinsonThis year, UT Knoxville celebrates the 50th anniversary of the admission of its first African American undergraduate students and the rich legacy of African American achievement campus-wide.

In July 1960, Theotis Robinson Jr. applied for admission to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. On January 4, 1961, Robinson, along with two other African American students—Charles Edgar Blair and Willie Mae Gillespie—gained admittance and began classes.

UT Knoxville will commemorate this important anniversary all year with special events and speakers, starting with a kickoff event at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1. (The original kickoff event was scheduled for January but was postponed due to inclement weather.)

In tribute to the original students’ brave walk to integrate UT, we will march from the Torchbearer statue to the University Center Auditorium. A celebration in the auditorium will follow with our special guest, Olympian and UT alumna Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley. Please mark your calendars and plan to join this celebration. We welcome all who would like to participate in this celebration.

Throughout 2011, many other events and celebrations will be held. Please visit for information on future activities and further information about the history of African American achievement at the University of Tennessee. Also take time to view some alumni memories or share one of your own.

If you need further information on the kickoff event or the yearlong celebration, contact Charles Houston (865-974-3011) or Annazette Houston (865-974-6087) or e-mail

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