UTM pays tribute to first African-American students
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:20 am
UT MARTIN HONORS FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS – The University of Tennessee at Martin honored the first African American student to enroll and the first to graduate from theuniversity during a ceremony Thursday. The University of Tennessee is observing a yearlong 50th anniversary celebration of the first African American students to attend the university. Jesse Arnold Pryor (center right), who was raised in Martin, was the first African American student to enroll at UT Martin, marking the beginning of desegregation in fall 1961. Beverly Polk Echols (center left) was the first African American student to graduate from the university when she received her diploma in June 1964. Benches were unveiled bearing plaques that honor Pryor and Echols, and the area between Holt Humanities Building and Clement Hall will now be known at Unity Circle. Joining the celebration are (left to right) Echols’ daughter, Carla Riley, of Byhalia, Miss.; Dr. Tom Rakes, UT Martin chancellor; Dr. Keith Carver, executive assistant to University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro; Ms. Echols, also of Byhalia; Ms. Pryor of North Potomac, Md.; son, Trevor, of Montgomery Village, Md.; son, Victor, also of North Potomac; and Rebecca, wife of Trevor Pryor.