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MTSU Honors Three "Unsung Heroes" at Unity Luncheon

Courtesy MTSU
Scales was MTSU’s first African-American professor

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A special week here on the campus of Middle Tennessee State.

On Tuesday, MTSU will be hosting its annual Black History Month Unity Luncheon. This year's theme is "Unsung Heroes."  Three women will be honored at the gathering, including Thenartis Ellis, Mary C. Scales and Olivia Murray Woods.

Ellis was the first African-American hired in a departmental office at MTSU. She worked as a secretary in the Department of Economics and Finance for 36 years.

Woods was the first African-American to enroll at MTSU as an undergraduate student. She earned her Bachelor of Science in elementary education in 1965.

Scales, MTSU’s first African-American professor, is known for her decades of teaching and civic work, including her election to both the Murfreesboro City School Board and the Murfreesboro City Council.

Scales says she focused, not on racial concerns, but on teaching.

"I really didn't think about being the first to teach all white students. Other places had had problems, but we didn't have problems at Middle Tennessee State University."

Mary Scales, Thenartis Ellis and Olivia Woods will be honored tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the James Union Building here on the MTSU campus.