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The Commission for Blacks is a body appointed by the Chancellor to advise on planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services as they relate to Black students, faculty and staff. The Commission reports to the Office of the Chancellor.

The Commission for Blacks recommends changes in or additions to university policies and procedures to reflect concerns specific to blacks. The group also makes suggestions for new and existing academic and extracurricular programs related to blacks; encourages research to identify the problems and progress of blacks on campus; and encourages black faculty, staff and student involvement in all aspects of campus life.

CFB Rally Statement, Resources, and Counter-Events

The Commission for Blacks is committed to the protection and retention of Black and African American students, faculty, and staff at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The Commission for Blacks seeks to enhance the campus racial climate and provide a space where a civil discourse around issues of race, racism, and biases can occur in our roles as faculty, staff, and students. We stand in solidarity with colleagues at the University of Virginia as they strive to offer a civil and secure climate to their campus community in the aftermath of violent protests spurred by White supremacy, racism, anti-semitism, and racial hatred.

We join the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in condemning racism in all its forms and will work with others throughout the campus and the nation in the call to eradicate hate, injustice, and racial violence. We remind everyone as to the importance of using our educational institutions as a means of “studying, analyzing, and broadly communicating about” patterns and structures associated with White supremacy, racism, antisemitism, religious persecution, homophobia, and xenophobia. As scholars at UTK continue to contribute to our understanding of the inequities within our educational institutions, we will support the dissemination of the “knowledge and evidence” that supports “understanding and respect of others” while disrupting “the divisive patterns of disparity and denigration.” The Commission for Blacks sets as our goal for UTK that “No one should leave our classrooms or campuses believing that the symbols of oppression and killing are mere logos.”


Local Mental Health Resources:

For Students:

University of Tennessee Student Health Counseling Center (865) 974-2251

For Faculty/Staff:

Employee Assistance Program (855) 437-3486

For Everyone:

Surviving and Resisting Hate: A Toolkit

List of Educational Resources:

The Charlottesville Syllabus

UTK Africana Studies Program Statement

AERA Statement on the Hateful Acts in Charlottesville

Call for Membership

CFB LogoIf you are interested in being a part of the Commission for Blacks (CFB), we invite you complete the online membership interest form for the 2016-2017 academic year.

The Commission consists faculty, staff, students, and external community members. Members are appointed by the Chancellor on an annual basis.

If you are a currently serving member of the commission and have an interest in continuing your membership with the Commission or if you are interested in getting involved with the Commission for the first time, please complete the form for consideration for membership appointment on the Commission. Deadline for submitting the membership interest form is May 15, 2016.

2017-18 Trailblazer Award Series: Justice Cheri Beasley

On March 22, 2018 the Commission for Blacks will present the 3rd African American Trailblazer Award of the 2017-18 year to Justice Cheri Beasley.

With a judicial career spanning 19 years, Justice Cheri Beasley has shaped the jurisprudence of the State of North Carolina and is known as a fair and experienced jurist. Notably Justice Beasley was elected in 2014 in a statewide election to continue service as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of North Carolina, after having been appointed in December 2012 by North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue. In the Supreme Court’s nearly 200 years, Justice Beasley is only the second African-American woman and also the seventh woman to serve on the State’s highest court. Prior to this appointment, Justice Beasley served for four years as an Associate Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals to which she was elected statewide in 2008. Her election to the Court of Appeals makes her the only African-American woman elected in any statewide election without an initial appointment by the Governor. She served ten years as a District Court Judge in the Twelfth Judicial District, Cumberland County, appointed in 1999 and subsequently elected in 2002 and 2006 presiding in criminal, civil, family, and juvenile courts. From 1994 to 1999, she served as an Assistant Public Defender in the Twelfth Judicial District representing defendants charged with high level felonies.

Justice Beasley’s commitment to serve North Carolina and her residents has extended far beyond the halls of justice.  She has worked tirelessly mentoring students and judges. She lectures on Appellate Advocacy and Trial Advocacy at The University of North Carolina School of Law and North Carolina Central University School of Law. She travels extensively nationwide, as well as to Europe, Egypt, and the Caribbean to promote the rule of law and the administration of justice and the importance of an independent judiciary and fair judicial selection.

Committed to supporting the legal profession, Justice Beasley serves on the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) and as vice chair of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission. She holds memberships in the American Bar Association’s Appellate Judicial Division, Criminal Justice, Litigation and other Sections. In addition, she has served as vice-president to the North Carolina Bar Association and is a host of other professional and civic organizations.

Justice Beasley is the recipient of many awards including the Fayetteville State University Chancellor’s Medallion, inductions into The Douglass Society, the highest honor bestowed by Douglass College-Rutgers University, and the Hall of Fame by the Rutgers University African-American Alumni Alliance. She is the recipient of the Gwyneth B. Davis Award by the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys and the Women of Justice Public Official Award. Justice Beasley was a Henry Toll Fellow with the Council of State Governments. In March 2018, Justice Beasley will also be awarded the Trailblazer Award by The University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Justice Beasley is a graduate of Douglass College of Rutgers University and a graduate of The University of Tennessee College of Law and completed a summer of law studies at Oxford University. She is currently a student at Duke University School of Law working toward an L.L.M. in Judicial Studies, graduating in May 2018. Justice Beasley and her husband Curtis Owens are the proud parents of twin sons, Thomas and Matthew, age 17, high school seniors.  They are members of First Baptist Church, Raleigh where Justice Beasley serves on the Board of Trustees.

The Trailblazer Award is dedicated to recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of African Americans affiliated with the University of Tennessee that are trailblazers in their disciplines or within the fields of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Commission for Blacks jointly organizes the speaking series.

Click here for more information on the 2017-18 Trailblazer Series.

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