By Lucas Johnson

NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Legendary R&B crooner Howard Hewett and rapper Chief Keef will headline Tennessee State University’s 2021 Homecoming, the first in-person celebration in over a year. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced TSU to have a non-traditional virtual homecoming last year. But, appropriately themed “The Return,” this year’s celebration Oct.24-31 is pretty much back to normal.

“This is an exciting and special time at Tennessee State University. After a year without a homecoming because of the pandemic, we have returned!” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “This homecoming is extra special because of what we have all endured over the last two years. This is a time for us to come together, and celebrate, as one big family. So, it’s with extra enthusiasm that I salute this year’s honorees, grand marshals, and special presidential grand marshal. May this homecoming be spectacular!”  

This year’s honorees are: Herman Brady, educator and U.S. Army veteran; Dr. Dorothy Granberry, higher ed. administrator and columnist; Dr. James Haney, retired history professor; and Dr. Sandra Holt, educator and ordained elder.  

Tennessee Rep. Harold Love, Jr. is this year’s Special Presidential Grand Marshal. Other grand marshals are: Dr. Alvin Crawford, a world-renowned orthopaedic surgeon and U.S. Navy veteran; Celestine Lowe, educator; and Alvin Marley, CPA.

Homecoming organizers say while they are excited to once again gather in-person, safety remains a priority amid the pandemic. 

“The excitement to reunite again this year has been overwhelming, and for good reason, after having to make the difficult decision to cancel our in-person homecoming last year,” says homecoming chairman Grant Winrow. “However, we have modified a few of our events as we are committed to adhering to all safety protocols. We will have temperature check stations, as well as disposable masks for those who may need them.”

Student Government Association President Derrick Sanders says he’s glad the university is keeping safety in mind, and hopes homecoming participants will be responsible. 

“We want everybody to stay safe; to wear a mask, protect one another,” says Sanders, a senior English major from Cincinnati, Ohio. “This is going to be a homecoming to remember.”

Besides the big game against Murray State at Nissan Stadium on Oct. 30 and the parade that morning, another major highlight of TSU’s homecoming is the Annual Scholarship Gala, TSU’s signature fundraising event. It will take place on Oct. 29 at the Music City Center. This year, the gala welcomes Grammy award-winning artist Howard Hewett, and for masters of ceremony, award-winning radio personality Jasmine Sanders and comedian and actor Rodney Perry. 

“The Gala provides the critical funds necessary to meet the significant need for student scholarships, as well as ensure students have access to relevant academic programs that prepares them for an innovative and global marketplace,” says gala chairwoman Iris Ramey, who is assisted by co-chairs Debbi Howard and Marie Sueing. “We are very fortunate to have a community of donors and friends who have given of their time, energy, and personal resources to invest in Tennessee State University.”

Other homecoming activities this year include the Robert N. Murrell Oratorical Contest on Oct. 24; the Coronation of Mr. TSU and Miss TSU on Oct. 27; the homecoming concert featuring rappers Chief Keef, Sada Baby, Dreezy, and Big Scarr on Oct. 28; the Breakfast of Champions, the Charles Campbell Fish Fry, and the National Pan-Hellenic Step Show on Oct. 29; and the legendary Homecoming Parade on Oct. 30.

The parade will be from 14th and Jefferson Street to 33rd and John Merritt Boulevard.

For more information about TSU’s 2021 Homecoming, visit https://bit.ly/3aBoV7M.