TSU has a notable presence at new NMAAHC in D.C.

Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016


Photo cutline: (Washington, D.C.) Dr. Alvia Wardlaw, Director of Texas Southern University’s University Museum and member of the NMAAHC advisory board, along with Dr. Thomas F. Freeman, 96, TSU’s world-renowned Debate Team Coach Emeritus, beam with pride at TSU’s multiple representations amid the new museum’s exhibits, including the one they are pictured in front of which features sketches from internationally-acclaimed artist and TSU alumnus Kermit Oliver.

(Houston, TX) Texas Southern University is well represented in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C., with a painting from John Biggers, founder of TSU’s Art Department; sketches from TSU alumnus Kermit Oliver; images from TSU alumnus and University Photographer Earlie Hudnall Jr.; and a display featuring the award winning, internationally acclaimed TSU Debate Team.

In addition to the exhibitors, TSU alumnus LaStarsha McGarrity, who interned with the Museum for 8 months prior to its opening, worked to restore several exhibits including cleaning the silver dresses worn by American R&B/pop vocal group En Vogue in their 1991 video My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It); working with Harriet Tubman’s shawl; as well as handling Nat Turner’s bible. “It was amazing to be able to handle these pieces of American history,” McGarrity said of her experience. “These were all authentic pieces.”

Dr. Alvia Wardlaw, Director of the TSU Museum, serves on the NMAAHC advisory board. Wardlaw, along with Dr. Thomas F. Freeman, 96, TSU’s world renowned Debate Team Coach Emeritus, participated in the private opening ceremony on September 17.

The TSU Debate Team display carries a picture taken in the fifties of the team with the Freeman. It includes a description of the team’s activities and a reference to the team’s role in the training of the actors in the movie, “The Great Debaters,” produced by Oscar winning actor Denzel Washington. Also on display is the trophy won by TSU alumnae Barbara Jordan (deceased) and TSU alumnus and former TSU Thurgood Marshall School of Law professor Otis King(deceased) when they integrated forensics in the South, at Baylor University in 1957.

Mickey Leland, the late Congressman and TSU alumnus, was passionate about creating a National Museum of African American History and Culture and first introduced a bill calling for a national museum in 1986. The opening to the general public starts September 23 through September 25. Organizers anticipate mass attendance for the three days of activities.

Yolanda Adams, another prominent TSU alumnae, will perform at the gathering and musical prelude September 24.

Among those in attendance and participating in this weekend’s activities are Dr. Freeman and his wife and daughter (Clarice and Dr. Carlotta Freeman), current TSU Debate Team Coach Dr. Gloria Batiste-Roberts, Dr. Wardlaw and a group of Texas Southern University students. Viewers were shocked and amazed at the presence of Dr. Freeman and sought to record the moment by taking pictures with him.

Dr. Theodore Judson Jemison is featured at the African American Museum for his leadership role in leading the 1953 Bus Boycott in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Boycott served as the model for the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King received the blueprint from Dr. Jemison. Both men were Baptist ministers in the National Baptist Convention, USA where later Jemison became president. Reverend Jemison was also the first secretary of Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Reverend King was the first president.

In December 2015, East Blvd. (from Government St. to North Blvd) became T.J. Jemison Blvd in Baton Rouge. The Louisiana Legislature also voted unanimously to approve a statue of Dr. Jemison to be located on the grounds of the State Capitol. The only other statue is the late Governor Huey P. Long. Dr. Jemison died in November 2013.

Dr. Jemison is the father of Dr. Dianne Jemison Pollard, Professor and Theatre Area Coordinator.


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