Tennessee Board of Regents Reverses Its Decision: 14 Freedom Riders Who Were Expelled From Tennessee State in 1961 Will Receive Honorary Degrees

Last month JBHE reported that by a vote of 7 to 5 the Tennessee Board of Regents had rejected a proposal to award honorary degrees to 14 individuals who were expelled from historically black Tennessee State University in 1961 because they had participated in the Freedom Rides, protesting racial segregation in interstate transportation. The reasoning behind the decision not to grant the honorary degrees was a university policy of awarding no more than two honorary degrees per institution per year.

After a public outcry following their initial decision, the Board of Regents voted unanimously to bestow the honorary degrees to all 14 individuals who had been expelled for participating in the civil rights protests 47 years ago.