Category Archives: Alumni News

Charly Palmer Selected Sesquicentennial Art Project Artist

Nashville, TN  The General Alumni Association of Fisk University, Inc. (GAAFU) is proud to announce today that Charly Palmer of Atlanta, GA has been selected as the artist for our 2016 Sesquicentennial Art project.

“We are excited about the committee’s selection of Mr. Palmer for this project. I feel strongly that Mr. Palmer has captured and internalized the essence of Fisk’s Sesquicentennial, and will present a work of art worthy of standing alongside other famed artists displayed in the Van Vechten,” says Vincent Leal, chairman of the GAAFU, Inc.

The work will commemorate the Sesquicentennial of historic Fisk University, embodying the University’s enduring spirit. Fisk University, the oldest college in Nashville, Tenn. and among the oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities, was founded in 1866 and will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2016. The original artwork will be entered into Fisk’s highly acclaimed permanent collection and displayed in the university’s Carl Van Vechten gallery or the Aaron Douglas gallery.

Palmer is a nationally recognized artist and visual historian known for chronicling multiple histories: civil rights, music, sports and American history. Palmer has made a masterful and smooth transition from the specifically objective works of his earlier career, to abstract works of the recent past. In doing so, he unites symmetry and precision color blending with sharp and soft angles to underscore his intended messages. His primary color palette is rich and bold; synthesizing vibrancy and patterns with subtle and obvious outlines that highlight the relationship between objects and people.

This project will not only represent Fisk University’s 150th anniversary, the commemorative art work will be produced in limited (150) signed editions.

“We invite members of the GAAFU, Inc. to be among the first to purchase one of the limited prints. More information will be given later on the development, availability and process involved in obtaining the art,” says Leal.

The GAAFU was incorporated in Nashville, Tennessee in 1985. It is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to support Fisk University.

Founded in 1866, Fisk University is the oldest institution of higher education in Nashville, Tennessee and will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2016. Fisk received a charter for the first chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society on a predominantly black campus in 1953. The school’s outstanding faculty and students continue to enhance the University’s national reputation for academic excellence that is validated year after year by leading third party reviewers, as well as by the continuous pool of talented applicants and large percentage of


Drive Fisk

This is your chance to make your donation to Fisk University and be entered for a chance to DRIVE ON US! Each contribution is your entry into a monthly drawing and the Grand Prize winner gets to Drive a BMW 3 Series for 3 years on Us. The Houston Fisk Alumni Association has initiated an exciting fundraising opportunity called “Drive Fisk”. It is 100% electronic via the web at: All and offers the opportunity for donors to drive a BMW!


How It Works:

  • You may donate in increments of $25.00, as often as you like. Each $25.00 donation provides another opportunity to Drive on Us, every month until the Drive ends.
  • For example, if you wish to donate $500 in total, give $25.00 20 times because you get one opportunity for each $25.00 donated. Each month one name will be selected for the final winner in May, 2015.
  • Each monthly winner will be eligible for prizes and entered into a final drawing in May 2015.

Sesquicentennial Art Commission

The General Alumni Association of Fisk University, Incorporated (GAAFU), in partnership with Fisk University, is soliciting proposals from qualified artists for the creation of an original work of art in honor of Fisk University’s Sesquicentennial in 2016. The goal is to commission a significant, museum caliber original work of art that is two or three-dimensional, and of the highest aesthetic quality. The work will commemorate the Sesquicentennial of Historic Fisk University and embody the University’s enduring spirit. The work must be made of durable materials suitable for display within the interior of a museum.

Jubilee Day 2019

Jubilee Day at Fisk University is a time of most sacred remembrance of October 6, 1871, when a chorus of nine fearful but inspired, young men and women began their first tour in a desperate attempt to raise funds for their school. Under the aegis of George L. White, whose abiding spirit of mission they shared, they traveled as the Jubilee Singers, after the Old Testament’s Year of Jubilee marking the deliverance of the Jews who, like all but two of themselves, had been in bondage. Though hungry and cold, the Singers donated the small purse of less than fifty dollars from their first paid concert to the Chicago Relief Fund to aid the victims of the great Chicago fire. Selfless, courageously fighting the scoffers who regarded them as a minstrel act, the Singers found a friend and patron at Brooklyn in Henry Ward Beecher, whose endorsement was an open sesame to the churches of the East. They electrified an audience of thousands at the Boston Coliseum, where Johann Strauss threw his hat in the air in happy excitement. After that, they found their dream of financial success come true in New England, earning $40,000 and an invitation to sing at the White House for President Grant by winter’s end. A European triumph followed. During the first tour of England in 1973-74, Havel, artist in the Court of Queen Victoria, painted a portrait of the celebrated singers (Men, left to right: Benjamin M. Holmes, Isaac P. Dickerson, Thomas Rutling, Edmund Watkins; women, left to right: Mabel Lewis, Minnie Tate, Ella Sheppard, Jennie Jackson, Maggie Porter, and Georgia Gordon). These eleven singers gave command performances before Queen Victoria and other crowned heads of Europe, introducing to them and to the world the Spiritual, the truly American Folksong, and establishing the tradition of high regard for music and song at Fisk. – all this in the same decade when the struggling Fisk school, named for General Clinton B. Fisk of the Freedman’s Bureau, had bought spellers and Bibles with money from the sale of fetters and handcuffs from an abandoned slave pit. From these concerts Jubilee Hall was built in 1875, a structure sometimes lovingly called “frozen music,” a memorial to the songs that were its building.
With recall of such things past – a history of struggle to the mark indignity, individualism and the ideal of the cultivated man, Fisk honors the Jubilee singers, their mission and their songs, in grateful appreciation for a lasting contribution to the University and to the American cultural heritage.
Author: L.M. Collins, Ph.D.