Tennessee State University kicked off its 2017 Homecoming with the 30th annual Robert N. Murrell oratorical contest on Sunday.
The event, which was held in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center, provides cash prizes of $1,200, $800 and $500 respectively for first, second, and third place winners in freshman and upperclassman divisions.
This year’s winners in the freshman division were Jazmyn Bolden, first place; Sharde Dodson, second place; and Justyce Battles, third. In the upperclassman division, Tomale Williams took the top prize, Sydni Daniels was second, and Anyrah Moffett came in third. Also in the upperclassman division, Ashanti Holland received a fourth place award.
Before the speeches, TSU President Glenda Glover told the participants that they’re all winners, whether they win a prize or not, because they had the courage to speak.
“You are champions even before you start,” Glover said. “It’s my belief the best is yet to come for each of you.”
The contest, established in 1988, is named in honor of the late Robert N. Murrell, a longtime administrator and dean of men at TSU. It encourages students to develop skills in research, writing and oratory.
In 1993, the TSU Homecoming Committee incorporated the oratorical contest into the official Homecoming schedule of activities, and established the Homecoming theme as the theme for the contest. This year’s theme is ‘The Road to Greatness Begins with Excellence.’
Following the oratorical contest, TSU’s Homecoming events continued with the Gospel Explosion, which featured hit artists Deitrick Haddon and Earnest Pugh, as well as TSU’s New Direction Gospel Choir.
Other Homecoming highlights throughout the week included the Coronation of Mr. and Miss TSU, Oct. 11; Ralph Boston Golf Tournament and Homecoming Concert, Oct. 12; and the Greek Step Show and Charles Campbell Fish Fry will be Oct. 13.
On Friday evening, TSU has planned a stellar Scholarship Gala at the Music City Center. This year, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry will serve as honorary chairperson. Nationally syndicated radio show host, actor and comedian, Rickey Smiley, will be the gala’s master of ceremony. Proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships are used to provide financial assistance to students. The goal is to raise one million.
Homecoming will conclude Sat., Oct. 14, with the Homecoming Parade from 14th and Jefferson Street to 33rd and John Merritt Blvd., and the big football matchup between the Tigers and in-state rival Austin Peay State University at Nissan Stadium.