KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — John Seigenthaler, chairman and founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, will deliver the Aug. 11 commencement address at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Seigenthaler worked for Nashville’s morning newspaper, The Tennessean, 43 years as a reporter, editor, publisher and chief executive officer.
During his years as Tennessean editor, the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Headliner Award for excellence.
When John Kennedy became president in 1961, Seigenthaler joined the administration as an assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Acting as President Kennedy’s chief negotiator with Alabama Gov. George Wallace during the 1961 civil rights freedom rides, Seigenthaler was attacked and wounded by a mob of whites in Montgomery.
Seigenthaler was editorial director of USA Today for 10 years before retiring in 1992.
Seigenthaler studied at Peabody College and Harvard University and taught communications policy in 1980 at Duke University. He appears weekly as a First Amendment analyst on “Freedom Speaks,” broadcast nationwide by public television. He also hosts a weekly book review program, “A Word on Words,” on public television.