January 9, 1866
Fisk School Opens
Imagine what it would be like if you were not allowed to go to school to learn while others around you were. After they were freed from slavery when the Civil War ended in 1865, African Americans thirsted for books and education, but were not allowed to attend schools where white kids went. Guess what happened.
The Fisk School, created for black students, opened its doors for the first time on January 9, 1866, in former army barracks in Nashville, Tennessee. The school was named after General Clinton B. Fisk, who provided the building.
The idea for Fisk School was born soon after the Civil War. A group called the American Missionary Association, formed in 1846 from three antislavery societies, helped to found Fisk School (later to become Fisk University), along with other historically black colleges, including Atlanta, Hampton, and Howard universities. The idea was to offer the best education a university could offer an individual, regardless of race. The first students at Fisk ranged from 7 to 70, all ex-slaves eager to learn. These historically black colleges still exist, and today African Americans are welcome at all colleges.