Fisk University was founded in Nashville, Tenn. in 1866. As an institution for African-American students, their first years of inception were pivotal. In 1871, while facing serious financial concerns, the school’s treasurer and music teacher decided to create a tour with a choir known as the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
Bringing the sacred artistry of spirituals to the world around them, the Jubilee Singers leaned on the love, dignity, and passion the songs brought their enslaved ancestors. The tour was well-received, especially by white patrons who had only seen black people on stage in minstrel shows.
Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. — with additional commentary from Farrah Griffin of Columbia University, and Fisk University students Victoria Sanders and Dwayne Mitchell — we celebrate Fisk University and the award-winning Jubilee Singers. By using the highly revered art of spirituals, the choir’s commitment to saving the university is one of their most notable contributions to black history.
Archival Materials Courtesy of:
Library of Congress
Robert F. Smith
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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