As you may or may not know, the next Democratic Presidential Debate is happening September 12th in Houston, Texas, but very few people have no idea about the school hosting the event, Texas Southern University.
This institution is a student-centered comprehensive doctoral university committed to ensuring equality, offering innovative programs that are responsive to its urban setting, and transforming diverse students into lifelong learners, engaged citizens, and creative leaders in their local, national, and global communities.
Since its existence, Texas Southern has made it a priority in achieving student success, academic quality, funding, partnerships, and culture. Their rankings on the national stage is a head above the rest, being #1 in degrees for African Americans in Texas, and #1 in doctoral-professional degrees in the lone star state.
To get us excited about this week’s debate host, I have found six fun facts about the beloved HBCU that makes it unique:
- It’s rich history: Texas Southern started as Houston Colored Junior College in 1927 with more than 300 students in its first semester. The school upgraded to a four-year institution to be known as Houston College for Negros in 1934 and was housed at Yates High School before outgrowing it in 1946. The school had another name change in 1947 calling it the Texas State University for Negros and finally became the school that we know and love in 1951, where it has over 9,500 students, making it the second-largest HBCU in the great state of Texas, and offers a variety of majors like Education, Pharmacy, and Business.
- Their alumni are fire: The graduates of Texas Southern have made a dent into the cultural thread of history for this country in politics, sports, and music. Civil Rights Activists, Barbara Jordan, became the first African American elected into the Texas State Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African American woman elected into the U.S. House of Representatives. The school’s Public Affairs department is named in her honor. Football Hall of Famer, New York Giants Defensive End and TV host, Michael Strahan, wore the burgundy and grey as a member of their football team before entering the draft in 1993. He also gave back by donating high-end equipment to his former team. And gospel singer, Yolanda Adams, recently announced her syndicated radio show “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show” will be broadcasting at the university’s public station KTSU 90.9 FM in Houston.
- Debate coach trained Denzel Washington for a role: The candidates should get some pointers from TSU’s debate coach emeritus Thomas F. Freeman. His 70-year tenure at Texas Southern as professor and head coach of their award-winning debate team used his talents for the film “The Great Debaters” in 2007. Actor, Denzel Washington, got training from Freeman for him to play Wiley College professor, Melvin B. Tolson in the 1930s.
- Houston’s first driver-less shuttle is on TSU’s campus: Back in June, the students got a cool way to commute to class with the self-driving METRO shuttle. This shared autonomous shuttle is the first in the Houston metro area. The shuttle rolls on the school’s Tiger Walk promenade that goes up to 12 miles per hour.
- The most murals on any campus: As part of the seniors’ final project, Art majors have created 128 murals around campus since 1947. The idea came from the art department’s founder, Dr. John Biggers, and the majority of the murals are housed in Hannah Hall.
- Their law school is full of #BlackGirlMagic: Just last month, the Thurgood Marshall School of Law hired Joan R. M. Bullock as its new dean, making her the first female dean in its school’s history. The school can also brag about the historical election of 17 Black female judges elected during the mid-term elections in November. Of those judges, eight of them are TSU graduates.