Tennessee State University is celebrating its 103rd year in existence this month, and is recognized as one of the top HBCUs in the South. TSU is the only state-funded HBCU in Tennessee and some of it’s alumni have achieved fame across a variety of fields.
Nestled in Nashville, the school began as the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School for Negroes in 1912. The doors of the school opened to students on Juneteenth of that year. In 1922, the school was changed to a four-year teacher’s college. From there, a number of name changes and focuses of the school would follow over the years.
It was called the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College in 1924, and three years later “Normal” was removed from the name. In 1951, the school achieved university status and was renamed the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial University, becoming one of several “land-grant” colleges in the nation. In 1968, elected officials in the state moved to take out “Agricultural and Industrial” as part of the unversity’s official name.
TSU has seen many of its men’s basketball and football players go on to star in the professional leagues. The late point-forward Anthony Mason, retired player and current Sacramento Kings assistant coach Truck Robinson, and retired big man, Carlos Rogers all played in the NBA. TSU also represented well in the the NFL with Hall of Famer Richard Dent, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Charlie Wade and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie among other attendees who went pro.
Olympic track legend Wilma Rudolph and Olympic gold medalist, sprinter Edith McGuire, added to TSU’s celebrated track and field program legacy.
Perhaps the most famous former student is media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who won a full scholarship to the school, launching her broadcasting career in Nashville while still in college.
Today, TSU has become known for its strong business and engineering programs.