Meharry Medical College has served the nation’s health care needs for 141 years. This year, the College is convening its 142nd commencement exercise because it held two graduation ceremonies in one academic year during World War II. The Meharry Medical College 142nd Commencement Ceremony officially starts at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 20 at the Curb Event Center on the campus of Belmont University.
The commencement speaker is legendary radio personality, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Tom Joyner, one of the most recognized media icons of today. Host of the nationally syndicated radio program The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Tom empowers, educates and entertains nearly eight million listeners each week in more than 105 cities nationwide.
The younger of two sons, Tom grew up in a close-knit family in Tuskegee, Alabama. His mother was a secretary for the military, and his father was a famed Tuskegee Airman. Similar to many blacks that lived in the Deep South during these turbulent times, Tom was actively passionate about fighting for civil rights change and justice in his community. He participated in many weekly protests, including the “Tuskegee Boycott” (taking place during the Montgomery Bus Boycott) and another demonstration where a local radio station refused to play “black” music. Eventually the station manager relented and Tom (naturally) nominated himself for the position.
Upon earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Tuskegee Institute in 1970, Tom immediately began his radio career, ultimately taking the radio personality to Chicago. In the mid-1980s, Tom was offered a morning drive time position at KKDA in Dallas and an afternoon spot at WGCI in Chicago. Any normal human being would have chosen one position – but Tom chose both, to fly thousands of miles every day (Monday-Friday) between Dallas and Chicago. Tom received the affectionate nicknames “The Fly Jock” and “The Hardest Working Man in Radio.” Tom continued this insane (to most) commute for eight years, collecting more than seven million frequent flyer miles, while gaining national publicity and higher ratings. In 1994, ABC successfully launched The Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) into national syndication.
Because of its reach and vast, responsive audience, the TJMS has become a hot spot for celebs, companies and national leaders/politicians hoping to connect with the community. Both President Barack Obama and 2016 Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton have been frequent guests on the show. Tom’s broadcast is extended through a digital app, leading lifestyle website BlackAmericaweb.com and popular consumer events. The Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage Cruise and Tom Joyner Family Reunion attract people annually for an unforgettable experience featuring LIVE concerts, theme nights, seminars, celebrities and more.
Tom has led national, successful awareness campaigns on voter registration laws, family/health initiatives, and minority discrimination. The Tom Joyner Foundation helps keep students in historically black colleges and universities. Since its inception, Tom’s foundation has raised more than $60 million. Tom has received numerous accolades and awards. In addition, Tom has an honorary degree from every HBCU in the continental US and US Virgin Islands!