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date: 08 April 2020

Fisk Universitylocked

One of the oldest and most respected African American liberal arts institutions.
  • Lisa Clayton Robinson

Extract

Fisk University, like many new schools established for African Americans after the Civil War ended in 1865, was founded and largely supported by white benefactors. But it differed significantly from other black schools, such as Tuskegee and Hampton, in its emphasis on liberal arts education rather than vocational training. Its founders saw Fisk as a school that would measure itself by “the highest standards, not of Negro education, but of American education at its best.”

Fisk was established in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 1865 by Erastus Milo Cravath and Edward P. Smith, both members of the American Missionary Association, and John Ogden, superintendent of the Tennessee Freedmen's Bureau's Department of Education. Fisk began as an elementary school to meet the basic educational needs of the newly freed slaves, and its first students ranged in age from seven to seventy. In 1867 Tennessee passed a law requiring ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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