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KNOXVILLE – On Jan. 4 of this year, UT celebrated an important milestone: the 50th anniversary of African American undergraduates on campus. The kickoff event, which was postponed due to inclement weather, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 1, in conjunction with the start of Black History Month.

The event will begin with a march from the Torchbearer statue beginning at 4:30 p.m. The march will end at the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center auditorium with a program and celebration featuring Olympian and UT Knoxville alumna Benita Fitzgerald Mosley.

All members of the campus community and the public are invited to attend.

“The integration of UT Knoxville’s undergraduate student body was significant for our campus and for Knoxville,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “Many special programs are planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this milestone, and we encourage the entire community to join us as we honor African-American achievement.”

The kickoff program will feature comments from Theotis Robinson Jr., one of the first African-American undergraduate students to be admitted to the university. Robinson is vice president for diversity with the UT system.

In July 1960, Robinson applied for admission to UT and, in January 1961, he and two other African-American students, Charles Edgar Blair and Willie Mae Gillespie, were admitted to the university and began classes on Jan. 4. Eight years earlier, African-American Gene Gray entered UT’s graduate school.

The kickoff event will be webcast. For more information about the university’s yearlong celebration, visit


Beth Gladden (865-974-9008,