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Theotis Robinson Jr. to Speak at Institute’s Black History Celebration

Please join the University of Tennessee Space Institute as we celebrate Black History Month on February 24, at 11 a.m. in the UTSI Auditorium. The featured speaker, Theotis Robinson, will speak about the “Journey to Change.” Robinson serves as the Vice President for Equity and Diversity at The University of Tennessee.

Robinson is no stranger to adversity. A native of Knoxville, he was active in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. As a senior in high school in 1959, he was a plaintiff in a lawsuit to desegregate the public school system in Knoxville after attempting to enroll in an all‐white high school. He also participated in demonstrations, such as lunch counter sit‐ins and stand‐ins at downtown movie theaters.

In 1960, Robinson applied for admission to the University of Tennessee, but was denied because of his race. He and his parents met with President Andy Holt to appeal his denial based on race. His application was taken to the UT Board of Trustees meeting in November 1960 – the policy regarding the admission of “Negroes” was changed, and in January 1961, Robinson made history when he became one of the first blacks to be admitted to the UT undergraduate school.

Robinson was recognized as one of the 100 most influential Knoxvillians of the 20th Century by the Metro Pulse newspaper. He is a member of the University of Tennessee Commission for Blacks and a former political opinion columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. In 1994 he was a Charter
Inductee into the University of Tennessee African American Hall of Fame and has a street in Knoxville named in his honor.

The program will include special music and a reception following the program. The UTSI Black History Celebration is free and open to the public. Please contact UTSI Human Resources at (931) 393 -7226 for additional information.