NAFEO Celebrates the Life, Lessons, and Leadership of Dr. Fredrick S. Humphries

The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) Nation, the CEOs of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other equal educational institutions mourn the death and celebrate the life of Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, who passed away June 24, 2021. Dr Humphries was former CEO and President of NAFEO and President Emeritus of Florida A & M University and Tennessee State University.

As a newly minted Howard University lawyer, I was privileged to work alongside Dr. Humphries when he, as President of Tennessee State University (TSU), a public four-year HBCU, fought victoriously against the State of Tennessee as it attempted to submerge TSU into the University of Tennessee at Nashville (UTN), a public four-year historically White university. When the dust settled, UTN was submerged into TSU and Dr. Humphries remained president of TSU, making it a more strengthened and comprehensive national university.

Dr. Humphries mentored me as well as hundreds of HBCU presidents, chancellors, administrators, faculty, staff and students. He provided wise counsel, teaching us how to plan and execute education equity and other social justice battles with passion, precision and tenacity. Dr. Humphries taught us to push forward and push back against all evildoers, with science, justice statutes and the Constitution. He taught us how to stare down the giants.

De jure discrimination in American higher education is dying and HBCUs are stronger because Dr. Humphries lived. Thanks to Dr. Humphries, there is great hope for equity in American higher education.

We extend condolences to Fredrick S. Humphries, Jr., Robyn Tanya Humphries, and Lawrence Humphries, on the passing of their beloved father.

“Good night sweet prince and bands of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Lezli Baskerville, President & CEO NAFEO