NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee State University has announced their 2023 commencement speakers – Oprah Winfrey and United States Congressman Bennie G. Thompson.

Winfrey will be speaking at the undergrad commencement ceremony that will be held on May 6 at 8 a.m. in Hale Stadium.

A TSU alumna, Winfrey’s esteemed career has connected her with people from all walks of life and around the world. She is a graduate of East Nashville High School and attended TSU on a full scholarship, majoring in communications. Despite being one credit short of her degree, Winfrey decided to leave school and Music City to pursue her dream of being a broadcast journalist.

In 1986, Winfrey returned to submit her final paper and officially graduated from TSU.

Now a dedicated philanthropist, she has contributed over $200 million towards providing education for academically gifted girls from difficult backgrounds. Winfrey is also a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture; her Morehouse Scholars Program has supported over 600 male college grads.

United States Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Miss-Second District, will address graduate students at an indoor ceremony on May 5 at 5 p.m. in the Gentry Center Complex.

Congressman Thompson is the longest-serving African American elected official in Mississippi and the longest Democrat in the Mississippi Congressional Delegation. In 1975, he was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that resulted in a $503 million increase in funding for Mississippi’s historically black universities.

“Commencement is always a special time for our students and their families, as it marks a major milestone in our students’ lives and a sign of success for them,” said TSU Dr. President Glenda Glover. “To have Ms. Winfrey as our speaker will be a life changing moment for graduates and the University. She is someone who has walked the TSU campus as a student, sat in some of the same classroom, and knows first-hand the value of a TSU education. Ms. Winfrey and Congressman Thompson are trailblazers, history makers and HBCU graduates, adding to the excitement and anticipation for both commencement ceremonies.”   

TSU estimates over 800 students will receive degrees across both days.