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Frieson Black Cultural Center Building
Exterior of Frieson Black Cultural Center - Photo by Kellie Crye Ward - 06.22.17

UT is hosting a series of events to celebrate black history and cultural contributions during Black History Month.

More than 20 events are planned by units across campus this month, including the Office of Multicultural Student Life, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Department of English, the Pride Center, the College of Social Work, the University Libraries, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Panhellenic sororities and fraternities, the Black Cultural Programming Committee, and the Black History Month Planning Committee. Check out the calendar of events.

This year’s celebration marks milestone anniversaries for the Frieson Black Cultural Center and the Office of Multicultural Student Life.

Originally called the Black Cultural Center, the Frieson Black Cultural Center opened in 1975 as an academic unit under the Cultural Studies program in the College of Liberal Arts. The goal of the center was to foster a better understanding of the black experience at UT and provide expertise and resources for the community.

In 1980, the Office of Minority Affairs was established. The office is now the Office of Multicultural Student Life and provides support services including peer mentoring, free tutoring, diversity educational programs, counseling for student organizations, a free book loan program, and student leadership development opportunities. Read more about the history of the Frieson Black Cultural Center and MSL.

“The establishment of the Black Cultural Center 45 years ago began to demonstrate the university’s commitment to African American students,” said Tanisha Jenkins, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Life. “The Black Cultural Center served as a vital resource and provided a community at UT that would help black students be successful academically, socially, personally, and spiritually.”

Multicultural Student Life, in partnership with UT’s chapter of the NAACP, recently hosted its 15th annual Black Issues Conference. The conference featured keynote speaker April Ryan, a White House correspondent and CNN political analyst.

Students, faculty, staff, and community members from across Tennessee attended the conference, participating in workshops and hearing from researchers while engaging in discussions focused on issues affecting the black community.

Isaac Holt, a senior supply chain management student from Charleston, South Carolina, has attended the Black Issues Conference each year since he came to UT. “This conference gives me an opportunity to become more knowledgeable about what’s happening in our world today and to reflect on the black experience,” he said. “It also stresses the importance of our voice in history and giving back to the community.”

In addition, UT’s African American Hall of Fame celebrated 25 years in October 2019 with the induction of Carolyn Hodges, UT’s first African American vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, where she served from 2007 to 2016. The Frieson Black Cultural Center is home to the Hall of Fame, where African Americans who have made great contributions to the university over the years are recognized. Read more about the African American Hall of Fame.


Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993,

Rebecca Jernigan (