Tennessee State University — WOW!

I'm posting this from the student center of Tennessee State University, the suburban campus, and, boy, am I impressed.
Finally, a black university that GET'S IT!

This place is intriguing. The campus, huge — more than 435 acres, nestled in the heart of the black community. The setting, faithfully collegiate, almost as ive league as  those colleges 250 year older– well-manicured lawns, rolling hills, campus buildings as far as the eye can see. And then with the many old and proud buildings,  modern cement, glass, and steel ones.

First impression, this school must spend its money exceedingly well. The student union, for example, is far more elegant and architecturally impressive than the one I raved about at the University of Cincinnati.

This place rocks. The ceilings are 50 feet high, and then a network of elevated walkways run parallel to the walls then bisect the center of this huge airport sized facility. These walkways are works of art and surely cost plenty to construct. They could have been left out and no one would have noticed anything amiss but there here at this land grant college which means nobody lined their pockets on the construction deal, nobody shortchanged the students.

And then there's the columns and brick facades. What a thoughtfull person the architect was. In a place like this several thousand people could converge and none would feel crowded. At every turn there's an alcove or seating area where individuals or small groups can chat privately, or study, or blog without feeling crowded.

Downstairs there appears to be a food court. I looked over tier I'm on and saw students sitting at tables eating. Now I can hear the faint hum of their talk. And this is architecturally interesting too. What I'm trying to say is that this facility "breathes." Perhaps it's the incredibly high ceilings, or the vast open spaces, whatever it is the sound of the many voices here tonight is a soft hum, soft enough so that it's still possible to study here no matter the crowd.

But there's more about TSU that needs telling. TSU is a land grant college like all the other land grant colleges, but so far it seems so dramatically different from AUC and Howard I'm gripped with desire to know how this came to be. For example, there are white people everywhere; even, apparently, a goodly number of white students and I know there students because I saw them going into the dorm.

This school also seems to have a respected academic program. Of course, Meharry Medical school is here,  but besides this, according to its website it confers 24 different bachelor degrees, a dozen or so graduate degrees, several PhD degree programs, and, most interestingly, has a nationally recognized research center.

Quick observations about the students I've seen:

No different from other land grant colleges: the girls dress like college students everywhere (absolutely no dresses) and the guys all dress like thugs — white t-shirts, gold chains, baggy jeans. On the whole, however, they at first blush seem lots more civilized than what I encountered at AUC; that's to say, I've yet to hear any "nigga" this, and "nigga" that.

And the women …

Boys, this place has got to be a guy's delight. These slender, apple-hard butt beauties keep cruising by, all in skin-tight jeans, and big, inquiring eyes. They're cruising for guys, man! and what a perfect setting to do it in. Oh, to be 20 years younger!

Ok, Fisk University is right down the street but I don't think I'm even going to bother. Oh, by the way, the black community that surrounds this campus is the kind of black community I've been writing about all along — the way things were 25 years ago in Atlanta, Washington, DC, Harlem. Had dinner in a great soul food restaurant — a black owned soul food restaurant where the steam table was set up just there way it is at Pickadilly's Cafetaria, a place called "Harpers."

And the street life in the hood was in full bloom, the kind of activity that made you want to park your car and dive in.

Anyway, I'll be spending the whole weekend here. This a hotel right down the street and I've moved from the hotel on the other side of town I was staying in.

Did I say there were some juke joints in the area that look like a lot of fun? I'll check them out and report back tomorrow.

Stay tuned …


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