Fisk will celebrate the 137 anniversary of the Fisk University Jubilee Singers during Jubilee Day 2008 on October 6, 2008.
At 9 a.m., the public is invited to a special dedication ceremony at the north end of Jubilee Memorial Bridge on D.B. Todd Boulevard. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Metro Council Representatives Jerry Maynard II and Brenda Gilmore, and faculty and staff delegates from Fisk and Meharry will be present for a ribbon cutting-ceremony to commemorate the legacy of the Jubilee Singers as well as recent upgrades to Memorial Bridge.
Fisk alumnus and senior pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, The Reverend Dr. Marcus D. Cosby, will give the convocation address at 10 a.m. in Fisk Memorial Chapel. Cosby graduated from Fisk in 1995 with a degree in Religion and English and went on to earn his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity degrees from Interdenominational Theological Seminary (ITC) in Atlanta, Ga. and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago, Il., respectively. Cosby is a member of the Houston Urban League and NAACP and has served on the board of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, Texas.
For 137 years, Fisk’s Jubilee Singers have served as one of America’s foremost a cappella ensembles and as the premier carriers of the Negro Spiritual. These songs were originally sung by slaves prior to the Civil War and have globally influenced many genres of music such as r & b, gospel and rock & roll.
The celebration of Jubilee Day occurs annually at Fisk on October 6. On that day, the University commemorates the original group of nine students and their music professor, George L. White who organized as The Fisk Jubilee Singers and toured internationally in hopes of raising money to save the University from closing. Through sacrifice and perseverance, proceeds from the Singers’ initial tours paid for the purchase of the 42 acre Nashville campus.
During their first tours, the Singers also contributed tour earnings to The Great Chicago Fire victims in 1871 and were invited to perform at The White House by President Ulysses Grant in 1872. In 1873, the group grew to eleven members and performed for the crowned heads of Europe. The group’s earnings paid for the construction of Jubilee Hall, the first permanent building in America erected for the education of African Americans.
Founded in 1866, Fisk is Nashville’s first University. According to the National Science Foundation, Fisk produces more African Americans who go on to earn their Ph.D.s in the natural sciences than any school in the nation.