UT Knoxville kicks off yearlong celebration of 50 years of African American achievement

Charles Blair and Theotis Robinson Jr with marchers

Earlier this month, UT Knoxville kicked off the 50th anniversary of the admission of its first African American undergraduate students and the rich legacy of African American achievement campus-wide.

Administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community members began the kickoff event on February 1 by marching from the Torchbearer statue to the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center. Theotis Robinson Jr. and Charles Blair, two of the first three African American undergraduates at UT, led the march. (Willie Mae Gillespie joined Robinson and Blair on January 4, 1961, as the first African American undergraduate students to attend classes at UT Knoxville.)

At the University Center, UT alumna and Olympic Gold Medalist Benita Fitzgerald Mosley delivered a keynote address to a standing-room-only audience.

Throughout 2011, other events and celebrations will be held. Visit achieve.utk.edu 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 would like further information on the yearlong celebration, contact Charles Houston (865-974-3011) or Annazette Houston (865-974-6087) or e-mail 50thaaau@utk.edu.

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James T. Guines February 23, 2011 - 11:23 am

I entered the Masters Degree program along with two other African Americans H. Blanton, Andra Hammonds in the mid 50, Harry and I got our EdD in 1961 and Hammonds went on to get a PhD from UT. Are the records clear on that?? There was another one there, Ralph Martin along with his and he received his Ed.D. We were not allowed to stay nor eat on campus, then.

Norman Johnson February 23, 2011 - 1:07 pm

Now when can UT hire or at least interview a black for the position of head coach in football?


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