Kamau Marshall credits TSU for providing foundations of success

Kamau Mandela Marshall, the Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Media and Public Affairs for the Biden-Harris Administration, is a man who made some of his first marks in the political world right here in Houston at Texas Southern University.

His efforts at TSU with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School of Communications, as well as being a member of the Student Government Association, the world-renowned Debate Team, and the Ocean of Soul Marching Band left him with experiences and knowledge that he still makes use of to this day .

“Texas Southern University is a part of my foundation,” Marshall explained. “I came to Texas Southern as a teenager from Georgia, and I grew here. I look at pictures from my freshman year up until my senior year and you can see the growth, the complete change from how I came in, to how I left. And that’s because I got the opportunity to be a part of everything I said I wanted to do in college. I did it, and Texas Southern University allowed me to do that.”

Marshall chose TSU out of many potential schools, such as Howard University, Jackson State, North Carolina A&T, and Tennessee State, and Southern University. What set TSU apart for him was its location in the south, the fact that it was in the city, and the school’s participation in the Southwestern Atlantic (SWAC) Conference.

As deputy assistant US trade representative, Marshall works the media, messaging, and external engagements for US Trade Rep. Katherine Tai, as well as Ambassadors Sarah Bianchi and Jamie White. A role that Marshall was abundantly prepared for due to the time spent in the various organizations around campus.

He was a broadcast journalism major, and his focus on media and the relationships cultivated with classmates and professors helped him to come into his own. To him, getting the HBCU experience while being in the city not too far from Rice University and right across the street from the University of Houston was the best setting he could hope for.

With the School of Communications, he worked closely with the late Hope Thompson at KTSU, where the two of them were a part of an early morning radio program on the station for three years. He also worked with professors Serbino Sandifer-Walker and Dawnica Jackson, who helped familiarize him with the world of media.

Marshall arrived at TSU on a band scholarship with the Ocean of Soul, where he played the baritone euphonium, one of the band’s principle instruments. With the band, he learned discipline and focus, and as time went on, he would eventually spread out to other organizations.

On the the Student Government Association, he was an election commissioner, and eventually became an executive vice president. Though urged by many of the student body to pursue presidency, Marshall declined, already flooded with work as an intern for former Mayor Annise Parker’s campaign and the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce.

“SGA played a critical role because as a student leader I was a voice for the students at one of the largest HBCUs,” Marshall recalled. “Working directly for our administration was a key thing for me, at the time it was with President John Rudley. I learned a lot of things with him and his administration. It taught me how to look at things from a bird’s-eye view and to assess situations completely differently.”

Being part of the TSU Debate Team also played a significant role in Marshall’s development, particularly in his speech and research skills. Under the tutelage of legendary team founder Thomas F. Freeman, Marshall traveled and competed with the team in several tournaments.

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