A Touch of Greatness: A History of Tennessee State University

A Touch of Greatness: A History of Tennessee State University

by Bobby L. Lovett


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The Tennessee General Assembly authorized "Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School for Negroes" in 1909 and opened with 250 students and three buildings in 1912. Depending heavily on donations from local Negroes and grants from philanthropic and federal agencies, the school graduated its first class in 1924, built collegiate-level facilities between 1927 and 1934, and achieved university designation in 1951. Tennessee A&I felt the oppression of a Jim Crow (de jure racial segregation) society until lawsuits forced the state to respect the "separate but equal" US Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). After the civil rights movement and several lawsuits, the federal court merged the UT-Nashville campus into Tennessee State University in 1979. TSU has outgrown its Jim Crow legacy, and thrives as a racially diversified, comprehensive urban land-grant research doctoral-level institution with nearly 9,000 students.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780881464351
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Publication date: 07/30/2013
Series: America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Pages: 338
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Bobby L. Lovett was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his public school education in Memphis, and BA, MA, and PhD degrees at the University of Arkansas. He has taught in the Memphis Public Schools, Eureka College (IL) and served as full professor of History at Tennessee State University from 1973 until his retirement in 2011. Lovett has published several books, contributed chapters to other books, and has published book reviews and articles in scholarly journals.

Table of Contents

Preface viii

Acknowledgments xv

1 1909-22: Born of Jim Crow: Tennessee A&I State Normal School 1

2 1922-36: Transformation from Normal School to Four-year College 42

3 1937-43: William J. Hale and the Great Battle 78

4 1943-51: Walter S. Davis: Transforming a College into a University 105

5 1951-68: Tennessee A&I Students and the Civil Rights Movement 130

6 1968-74: Andrew P. Torrence and the Battle of Geier 167

7 1975-85: Frederick S. Humphries, TSU-UTN Merger and Survival 191

8 1985-90: Roy P. Peterson and Otis L. Floyd: Readjustment 216

9 1991-2005: James A. Hefner: Students Matter Most 240

10 2005-12: Melvin N. Johnson and Portia Shields 265

11 TSU Diamonds: Student Athletes, Coaches, and Sports Legends 284

Conclusion 322

Selected Bibliography 325

Index 333

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