TENNESSEE COLLEGE TRIP STOP #4, February 2019
Fisk University, in Nashville, Tennesee was founded in 1866 just after the Civil War. Fisk’s first students ranged in age from seven to seventy, but shared common experiences of slavery and poverty along with an “extraordinary thirst for learning.” In 1953, Fisk received a charter for the first chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society on a predominantly black campus. Today, Fisk’s 800 students enjoy a 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio and can take courses not offered on their campus at nearby Vanderbilt University. Top majors are Biology, Psychology, and Business; 78% go on to professional or graduate school, and students who qualify can be accepted into the School of Medicine or Dentistry at Meharry Medical College after three years at Fisk.
On campus, our group learned about Fisk's world-famous Jubilee Singers who introduced 'slave songs' to the world in 1871 when they set out from Nashville in hopes that their music could somehow raise enough money to keep the university’s doors open during financial troubles. The plan worked as their performances captivated audiences that included William Lloyd Garrison, Mark Twain, and Queen Victoria. Students still audition today to be a part of the contemporary Jubilee Singers who perform on campus and around the world. We also learned from students how important it was for them to have a space to learn and live with others from similar backgrounds, as well as being on a campus with such a rich and significant history.
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