Fisk University

Last updated

Fisk University
Fisk University seal.png
Former names
The Fisk Freed Colored School
MottoHer sons and daughters are ever on the altar [1]
Type Private, HBCU
Religious affiliation
United Church of Christ (historically related)
Academic affiliations
President Kevin D. Rome
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

36°10′08″N86°48′17″W / 36.1688°N 86.8047°W / 36.1688; -86.8047 Coordinates: 36°10′08″N86°48′17″W / 36.1688°N 86.8047°W / 36.1688; -86.8047
Campus Urban, 40 acres (16 ha)
Colors Gold and Blue
Nickname Bulldogs
Sporting affiliations
(previously GCAC)
MascotThe Fisk Bulldog
Fisk University logo.png

Fisk University is a private historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee. The university was founded in 1866 and its 40-acre (160,000 m2) campus is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community. During the period of segregation in the United States prior to the Civil Rights Act, the overwhelming majority of higher education institutions were predominantly white and disqualified African Americans from enrollment. For a century after the end of slavery in the United States in 1865, most colleges and universities in the Southern United States prohibited all African Americans from attending, while institutions in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit admissions of blacks.

Nashville, Tennessee State capital and consolidated city-county in Tennessee, United States

Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2018 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 692,587. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 669,053 in 2018.

National Register of Historic Places Federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.


In 1930, Fisk was the first African-American institution to gain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Accreditations for specialized programs soon followed. Although the university remains accredited by SACS, the university was placed on probation in June 2018. [2]

Higher education accreditation in the United States is a peer review process coordinated by accreditation commissions and member institutions. It was first undertaken in the late 19th century by cooperating educational institutions.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools university accreditation organization in the U.S.A.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is one of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This agency accredits over 13,000 public and private educational institutions ranging from preschool to college level in the Southern United States. Its headquarters are in North Druid Hills, Georgia, near Decatur and in the Atlanta metropolitan area.


University namesake Clinton B. Fisk GenCBFisk.jpg
University namesake Clinton B. Fisk
A class c. 1900 Extempo club of Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn LCCN96509798.jpg
A class c. 1900

In the Antebellum era, the land on which the campus was built was owned by David McGavock. [3] He was the brother of Randal McGavock, who owned the Carnton plantation and was mayor of Nashville from 1824 to 1825.

Randal McGavock (1766–1843) was an American politician and Southern planter in Nashville, Tennessee. Identifying as a Jeffersonian Republican, he served as the Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee from 1824 to 1825.

Carnton United States historic place

Carnton is a historic plantation house and museum in Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee, United States. The sprawling farm and its buildings played an important role during and immediately after the Battle of Franklin during the American Civil War. It is managed by the non-profit organization The Battle of Franklin Trust.

In 1866, six months after the end of the American Civil War, leaders of the northern American Missionary Association (AMA): John Ogden, Reverend Erastus Milo Cravath, field secretary; and Reverend Edward Parmelee Smith, founded the Fisk Free Colored School, for the education of freedmen in Nashville. It was one of several schools and colleges that the AMA helped found. Enrollment jumped from 200 to 900 in the first several months of the school, indicating freedmen's strong desire for education, with ages of students ranging from seven to seventy.

American Civil War Internal war in the U.S. over slavery

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights in order to uphold slavery.

American Missionary Association New York-based abolitionist movement

The American Missionary Association (AMA) was a Protestant-based abolitionist group founded on September 3, 1846, in Albany, New York. The main purpose of the organization was abolition of slavery, education of African Americans, promotion of racial equality, and spreading Christian values. Its members and leaders were of both races; The Association was chiefly sponsored by the Congregationalist churches in New England. Starting in 1861, it opened camps in the South for former slaves. It played a major role during the Reconstruction Era in promoting education for blacks in the South by establishing numerous schools and colleges, as well as paying for teachers.

Erastus Milo Cravath (1833–1900) was a field secretary with the American Missionary Association (AMA) after the American Civil War, who helped found Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and numerous other historically black colleges in Georgia and Tennessee for the education of freedmen. In addition, he served as president of Fisk University for more than 20 years.

The school was named in honor of General Clinton B. Fisk of the Tennessee Freedmen's Bureau, who made unused barracks available to the school, as well as establishing the first free schools for white and black children in Tennessee. In addition, he endowed Fisk with a total of $30,000. [4] The American Missionary Association's work was supported by the United Church of Christ, which retains an affiliation with the university. [5] Fisk opened to classes on January 9, 1866. [6]

Clinton B. Fisk Union Army general

Clinton Bowen Fisk was a senior officer during Reconstruction in the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands and the Prohibition Party candidate for president in the 1888 election. Fisk University was named in his honor after he endowed Fisk University with $30,000. In addition, he helped establish the first free public schools in the South for European-American and African-American children.

Freedmens Bureau United States bureau responsible for improving freed slaves conditions

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, usually referred to as simply the Freedmen's Bureau, was an agency of the United States Department of War to "direct such issues of provisions, clothing, and fuel, as he may deem needful for the immediate and temporary shelter and supply of destitute and suffering refugees and freedmen and their wives and children."

United Church of Christ Protestant Christian denomination

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination based in the United States, with historical confessional roots in the Congregational, Reformed, and Lutheran traditions, and with approximately 4,882 churches and 824,866 members. The United Church of Christ is a historical continuation of the General Council of Congregational Christian churches founded under the influence of New England Pilgrims and Puritans. Moreover, it also subsumed the third largest Reformed group in the country, the German Reformed. The Evangelical and Reformed Church and the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches united in 1957 to form the UCC. These two denominations, which were themselves the result of earlier unions, had their roots in Congregational, Lutheran, Evangelical, and Reformed denominations. At the end of 2014, the UCC's 5,116 congregations claimed 979,239 members, primarily in the U.S. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 0.4 percent, or 1 million adult adherents, of the U.S. population self-identify with the United Church of Christ.

With Tennessee's passage of legislation during the Reconstruction era to support public education, leaders saw a need for training teachers. Fisk was incorporated as a normal school for college training in August 1867.[ citation needed ] James Dallas Burrus, John Houston Burrus, Virginia E. Walker, and America W. Robinson were the first four students to enroll at Fisk in 1867; Broughton and the two Burruses were the first African Americans to graduate from a liberal arts college south of the Mason–Dixon line. Robinson graduated as well and became a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Walker became a noted missionary, while the Burrus brothers were both prominent educators. They later became professors at Fisk. [7]

Normal school educational institution to train teachers

A normal school is an institution created to train high school graduates to be teachers by educating them in the norms of pedagogy and curriculum. Most such schools, where they still exist, are now denominated "teacher-training colleges" or "teachers' colleges" and may be organized as part of a comprehensive university. Normal schools in the United States and Canada trained teachers for primary schools, while in continental Europe, the equivalent colleges educated teachers for primary, secondary and tertiary schools.

James Dallas Burrus was an African-American educator, druggist and philanthropist from Tennessee. He and a brother were among the first three graduates of Fisk University, the first African Americans to graduate from a liberal arts college south of the Mason–Dixon line. After completing graduate work in mathematics at Dartmouth College, Burrus became the first professor of mathematics at Fisk University. He later continued his teaching career at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Mississippi.

Cravath organized the College Department and the Mozart Society, the first musical organization in Tennessee. Rising enrollment added to the needs of the university. In 1870 Adam Knight Spence became principal of the Fisk Normal School. To raise money for the school's initiatives, his wife Catherine Mackie Spence traveled throughout the United States to set up mission Sunday schools in support of Fisk students, organizing endowments through the AMA. [8] With a strong interest in religion and the arts, Adam Spence supported the start of a student choir. In 1871 the student choir went on a fund-raising tour in Europe; they were the start of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

They toured to raise funds to build the first building for the education of freedmen. They raised nearly $50,000 and funded construction of the renowned Jubilee Hall, now a designated National Historic Landmark. [9] When the American Missionary Association declined to assume the financial responsibility of the Jubilee Singers, Professor George L. White, Treasurer of the University, took over responsibility and started North in 1871 with his troupe. On April 12, 1873, the Jubilee Singers sailed for England. They sang for a society in the presence of the Queen, who expressed her pleasure in the performance. [6] The Jubilee Singers were responsible for popularizing the spirituals written by Wallace Willis, including "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." [10]

During the 1880s Fisk had an active construction program on campus, which accompanied its expansion of curriculum offerings. By the turn of the 20th century, it added black teachers and staff to the university, and a second generation of free blacks entered classes. [9]

From 1915 to 1925, Fayette Avery McKenzie was President of Fisk. McKenzie's tenure, before and after World War I, was during a turbulent period in American history. In spite of many challenges, McKenzie developed Fisk as the premier all Black university in the United States, secured Fisk's academic recognition as a standard college by the Carnegie Foundation, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, raised a $1 million endowment fund to ensure quality faculty and laid a foundation for Fisk's accreditation and future success. [11] McKenzie was eventually forced to resign when his strict policies on dress code, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of student life led to student protests.

In 1947 Fisk selected its first African-American president, Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Johnson was a premier sociologist, a scholar who had also been the editor of Opportunity magazine, a noted periodical of the Harlem Renaissance.

In 1952, Fisk was the first predominantly black college to earn a Phi Beta Kappa charter. Organized as the Delta of Tennessee Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society that December, the chapter inducted its first student members on April 4, 1953.

On April 8, 1967, a riot occurred on the college campuses of Fisk University and Tennessee State University after Stokely Carmichael spoke at Vanderbilt University. [12] Although it was viewed as a "race riot", it had classist characteristics. [12]

From 2004 to 2013, Fisk was directed by its 14th president, Hazel O'Leary, former Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton. She was the second woman to serve as president of the university. On June 25, 2008, Fisk announced that it had successfully raised $4 million during the fiscal year ending June 30. It ended nine years of budget deficits and qualified for a Mellon Foundation challenge grant. [13] [14] However, Fisk still faced significant financial hardship, and said that it may need to close its doors unless its finances improve. [15]

H. James Williams, served as president from February 2013 to September 2015. Williams had previously been dean of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Michigan and, before that, an accounting professor at Georgetown University, Florida A&M and Texas Southern University. [16] [17] Williams stepped down in September 2015. [18]

Williams was replaced by interim president, board member, Frank Sims. [19] In March 2017 the Fisk board of trustees announced that Kevin Rome would be Fisk university's next president. [20]

In June 2017, a service in memory of 1892 lynching victim Ephraim Grizzard was held in the Fisk University Memorial Chapel. In addition, a plaque memorializing Grizzard, his brother Henry, and Samuel Smith, a third lynching victim, was installed at St. Anselm's Episcopal church in Nashville. [21]

One year later, the university's regional accreditor placed the university on probation. The accreditor cited failings related to financial responsibility, control of research funds, and federal and state responsibility. [2]


Fisk University Historic District
LocationRoughly bounded by 16th and 18th Aves., Hermosa, Herman and Jefferson Sts.
Nashville, Tennessee
Architectural styleItalianate; Queen Anne
NRHP reference # 78002579
Added to NRHPFebruary 9, 1978

Jubilee Hall, which was recently restored, is the oldest and most distinctive structure of Victorian architecture on the 40 acre (160,000 m²) Fisk campus.

Music, art, and literature collections

Jubilee Hall WTN EVula 187.jpg
Jubilee Hall

Fisk University is the home of a music literature collection founded by the noted Harlem Renaissance figure Carl Van Vechten, for whom the campus museum is named, and a substantial collection of materials associated with Charles W. Chestnutt. [22]

Alfred Stieglitz Collection

In 1949, Georgia O'Keeffe donated to Fisk a number of paintings that had belonged to her husband, the photographer and art patron Alfred Stieglitz. The collection consists of 101 works by important artists, including European modernists Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera, as well as American artists Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove and Charles Demuth and works by O'Keeffe. [23]

In 2005, mounting financial difficulties and deteriorating conditions in the gallery led the University trustees to vote to sell two of the paintings, O'Keeffe's "Radiator Building" and Hartley's "Painting No. 3," together estimated to be worth up to 45 million U.S. dollars. The sale was challenged by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, the legal guardians of her estate. As a compromise, a joint agreement was established between Fisk University and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. [24] [25] [26] [27] The two museums now share ownership of the Stieglitz collection, which rotates between them every two years. In 2016, as part of the university's sesquicentennial celebration, the collection was displayed at the newly renovated Carl Van Vechten Gallery. [23]

Science programs

Fisk University has a strong record of academic excellence: it has graduated more African Americans who go on to earn PhDs in the natural sciences than any other institution. [28]

Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program

Started in 2004, [29] the Fisk-Vanderbilt bridge program helps underrepresented groups gain access to Ph.D. programs in STEM fields. The partnership between a small, historically black college and a major research university aims to diversify doctoral study. [30] The program, which has received money from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, [31] provides a scholarship for a master's degree at Fisk University and close mentorship for students who go on to a Ph.D. [29] Since 2004, 21 students in the program have completed a Ph.D., with another 56 currently pursuing graduate study. [29] The program has a success rate far higher than the national average for completion of Ph.D. programs, which is about 50%. [32]


University rankings
Forbes [33] 642
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report [34] 164-215
Washington Monthly [35] 162


Fisk University teams, nicknamed athletically as the Bulldogs, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) [39] Division I level, primarily competing in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). [40] Men's sports include basketball, cross country, tennis and track & field; women's sports include basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

Notable alumni

NameClass yearNotabilityReference(s)
Lil Hardin Armstrong 1915jazz pianist/composer, second wife of Louis Armstrong
Constance Baker Motley 1941–1942first African-American woman elected to the New York State Senate
Marion Barry 1960former mayor of Washington, D.C.
Mary Frances Berry former Chair, United States Commission on Civil Rights; former Chancellor University of Colorado at Boulder
John Betsch 1967jazz percussionist
Joyce Boldenfirst African-American woman to serve on the Commission for Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Music
Otis Boykin 1942inventor, control device for the heart pacemaker
St. Elmo Brady first African American to earn a doctorate in Chemistry
Virginia E. Walker Broughton 1875, 1878author and Baptist missionary [41] [42] [43]
Cora Brown first African-American woman elected to a state senate
James Dallas Burrus 1875educator
John Houston Burrus 1875educator J.H. Burrus.png
Henry Alvin Cameron 1896educator, decorated World War I veteran
Elizabeth Hortense (Golden) Canady past national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority
Alfred O. Coffin first African American to earn a doctorate in zoology
Malia Cohen 2001San Francisco District 10 Supervisor 2010 – Present
Johnnetta B. Cole anthropologist, former President of Spelman College and Bennett College
Neal Craig 1971 NFL Cornerback for Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, and Cleveland Browns
Arthur Cunningham 1951musical composer, studied at Juilliard and Columbia University
William L. Dawson (politician) 1909 U.S. Congressman (1943–1970) William L. Dawson.jpg
Charles Diggs United States House of Representatives Michigan (1955–1980) Charles C. Diggs.jpg
Mahala Ashley Dickerson 1935first black female attorney in the state of Alabama and first black president of the National Association of Women Lawyers
Rel Dowdell 1993 acclaimed filmmaker
W. E. B. Du Bois 1888sociologist, scholar, first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard WEB DuBois 1918.jpg
James J. Durham 1880, 1885Founder of Morris College
Althea Brown Edmiston 1901Presbyterian missionary in Belgian Congo
Venida Evans 1969actress, best known for IKEA commercials
Etta Zuber Falconer 1953first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics; former Chair, mathematics department at Spelman College
John Hope Franklin 1935historian, professor, scholar, author of landmark text From Slavery to Freedom John Hope Franklin.png
Victor O. Frazer United States House of Representatives (1995–1997)
Alonzo Fulgham former acting chief and operating officer of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Nikki Giovanni 1967poet, author, professor, scholar Nikki Giovanni speaking at Emory University 2008.jpg
Louis George Gregory posthumously, a Hand of the Cause in Bahá'í Faith
Eliza Ann Grier 1891first African-American female physician in Georgia Eliza Ann Grier.jpg
Kevin Hales professor, Africologist, Fulbright Scholar, NEH Scholar, Teaching Excellence Professor (Scholar of global African culture)
Alcee Hastings U.S. Congressman and former U.S. district court judge
Roland Hayes concert singer
Perry Wilbon Howard Assistant U.S. Attorney General under President Herbert Hoover
Elmer Imes 1903renowned physicist and second African-American to earn a Ph.D in Physics
Esther Cooper Jackson 1940Founding editor of Freedomways Journal
Lena Terrell Jackson 1885educator in Nashville for over 50 years LenaTerrellJackson1902.tif
Leonard Jackson (actor) 1952Actor, Five on the Black Hand Side; The Color Purple
Robert James former NFL cornerback
Judith Jamison pioneering dancer and choreographer; former artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Ted JarrettR&B recording artist and producer
Dr. Charles Jeter1971father of Derek Jeter
Ben Jobe 1956legendary basketball coach, Southern University
Lewis Wade Jones 1931sociologist; Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellow at Columbia University
Ella Mae Johnson 1921at age 105 years old, Ella Mae Johnson traveled to Washington, DC to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama
Mame Stewart Josenberger 1888businesswoman and clubwoman in Arkansas MameStewartJosenberger1920ProgofaRace.tif
Anne Gamble Kennedy 1941Pianist, professor, and piano accompanist for the Fisk Jubilee Singers
Matthew Kennedy 1947Pianist, professor, and former director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers
Mathew Knowles 1973father and former manager of Beyoncé, founder and owner of Music World Entertainment, and adjunct professor at Texas Southern University
Dr. John Angelo Lester 1895Professor Emeritus of Physiology, Meharry Medical College
Nella Larsen 1908novelist, Harlem Renaissance era
Julius Lester 1960author of children's books and former professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
David Levering Lewis 1956two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner David-levering-lewis2-sm.jpg
John Lewis Congressman, civil rights activist, former President of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) John lewis official biopic.jpg
Jimmie Lunceford 1925famous bandleader in the swing era
Aubrey Lyles 1903vaudeville performer
Mandisa 2001 Grammy Award-winning and Dove Award-nominated Christian contemporary singer/songwriter, ninth-place finalist in the fifth season (2006) of American Idol
Ariana Austin Makonnen philanthropist and member of the Ethiopian Imperial Family
Patti J. Malone 1880Fisk Jubilee Singer
Louis E. Martin 1933Godfather of Black Politics
Fatima Massaquoi 1936pioneering Liberian educator [44]
Jedidah Isler 2007Isler became the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in Astrophysics from Yale University in 2014 [45]
Wade H. McCree 1941second African-American United States Solicitor General; Justice, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Wademccree.jpg
Samuel A. McElwee 1883State Senator during the Reconstruction Era and the first African American elected three times to the Tennessee General Assembly
Robert McFerrin first African American male to sing at the Metropolitan Opera and father of Bobby McFerrin
Leslie Meek 1987 Administrative Law Judge, wife of Congressman Kendrick Meek
Theo Mitchell 1960Senator, South Carolina General Assembly
Undine Smith Moore first Fisk graduate to receive a scholarship to Juilliard, Pulitzer Prize Nominee
Diane Nash founding member of SNCC
Rachel B. Noel politician; first African-American to serve on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education
Lonnie H. Norris, D.M.D., M.P.H.1964first African American Dean in the history of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. [46]
Donna M. Norris M.D.1964psychiatrist and the first black and first woman speaker at the assembly of the American Psychiatric Association. [47]
Hon. Hazel O'Leary former U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary.jpg
Lucius T. Outlaw, Jr.Philosophy professor at Vanderbilt University [48]
J.O. Patterson, Jr. 1958first African American to occupy the office of Mayor of Memphis. Tennessee State Representative, State Senator, Memphis Councilman, Jurisdictional Bishop in the Church of God in Christ
Helen Phillips 1928first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Annette Lewis Phinazee 1939first black woman to earn a doctorate in library sciences from Columbia University
Alma Powell wife of Gen. Colin Powell
Cecelia Cabaniss Saunders 1903director of Harlem YWCA, 1914-1947
Lorenzo Dow Turner 1910linguist and Chair, African Studies at Roosevelt University
A. Maceo Walker 1930businessman, Universal Life Insurance, Tri-State Bank
Ron Walters 1963scholar of African-American politics, Chair, Afro-American Studies Brandeis University
Margaret Murray Washington 1890Lady Principal of Tuskegee Institute and third wife of Booker T. Washington
Ida B. Wells American civil rights activist and women's suffrage advocate Ida B. Wells Barnett.jpg
Charles H. Wesley 1911President of Wilberforce University from 1942 to 1947, and President of Central State College from 1947–1965; third African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard
Kym Whitley actress, comedian
Frederica Wilson 1963U.S. Representative for Florida's 17th congressional district Fredrica Wilson 112th Congress Portrait.jpg
Tom Wilson (producer) 1953music producer, best known for his work with Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa
Frank Yerby 1938first African-American to publish a best-selling novel

Notable faculty

Camille Akeju Art Art historian & museum administrator [49]
Ebenezer Ako-Adjei Ghanaian politician and founding father of Ghana
Arna Bontemps Librarian Head Librarian; Harlem Renaissance Poet
Robert Hayden United States Poet Laureate 1976–1978
Charles Spurgeon Johnson President First African American President of Fisk University
Fayette Avery McKenzie President Fourth President of Fisk University
Thomas Elsa Jones President Fifth President of Fisk University
Percy Lavon Julian Chemistry first African-American Chemist and second African-American from any field to become a member of the National Academy of Sciences
Lee Lorch Mathematicsmathematician and civil rights activist. Fired in 1955 for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Hon. Hazel O'Leary Presidentformer U.S. Secretary of Energy
John Oliver Killens Writer in ResidenceTwo-time Pulitzer Prize Nominee
Nikki Giovanni Englishauthor, poet, activist
James Weldon Johnson Literatureauthor, poet and civil rights activist, author of Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing , known as the "Negro National Anthem"
Anne Gamble Kennedy MusicConcert Pianist, Piano Professor, and accompanist for the Fisk Jubilee Singers under John W. Work III and Matthew Kennedy
Matthew Kennedy MusicConcert Pianist, Piano Professor, and director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1957-1986 intermittently)
John W. Work III MusicChoir Director, Ethnomusicologist and scholar of Afro-American folk music
Aaron Douglas Artpainter, illustrator, muralist
Robert E. Park Sociologysociologist of the Chicago School
Helen Clarissa Morgan LatinFirst woman to be appointed professor of Latin (1869-1907) at a coeducational college

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Kevin D. Rome

Kevin D. Rome Sr. is an African-American university administrator. He serves as the 16th president of Fisk University, a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. He was previously the president of Lincoln University from 2013 to 2017.

James Raymond Lawson was an African-American physicist and university administrator. He was the president of Fisk University, a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1967 to 1975.

Matthew Washington Kennedy Classical pianist, choral director, professor

Matthew Washington Kennedy was an African-American classical pianist, professor, choral director, composer, and arranger of Negro Spirituals. He is widely known as the director of the historic Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville, Tennessee from 1957 to 1986.

Anne Gamble Kennedy was an American classical pianist, piano professor, and accompanist for the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville, Tennessee.

Ella Sheppard Singer, pianist, composer, matriarch of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers

Ella Sheppard was a soprano, pianist, composer, and arranger of Negro Spirituals. She was the matriarch of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville, Tennessee. She also played the organ and the guitar. Sheppard was a friend and confidante of African-American activists and orators Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass.

Jennie Jackson American singer

Jennie Jackson was an American singer and voice teacher. She was one of the original members of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African-American a cappella ensemble. She toured with the group from 1871 to 1877. In 1891 she formed her own sextet, the Jennie Jackson Concert Company.


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