In this last stop on our HBCU Library Alliance tour, we visit Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, a town known as the cradle of student protest. DeLisa Minor Harris provides a stunning overview of Fisk University’s enduring activist legacy—from the 1800s, when the Jubilee Singers brought international attention to the Negro spiritual, to the civil rights work of Diane Nash, John Lewis, and others. The tradition of protest continues today among students and alumni organizers and activists with the Black Lives Matter Movement.

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Sources and References (in order of appearance)

Behind the Mic

Sharon Burney

Sharon M. Burney

Show Host

Sharon M. Burney is a program officer with CLIR, where she supports the Recordings at Risk and Digitizing Hidden Special Collections grant programs. Sharon specializes in academic, cultural heritage, community, and institutional support systems, navigating administrative policy adherence with an interpersonal connection that promotes community building. Prior to joining CLIR, she spent 15 years providing program support to the University of Florida African American Studies Program, helping it to become a premiere degree program. She is also a widely respected poet and community organizer. She loves to embrace the infinite historical contributions of the African diaspora, and blends them with contemporary civil rights, activism, and social issues in her poetry. Her passion for public service, education, and humanity is exemplified in every aspect of her life, and when in rest mode you can find her enjoying the simple moments with her daughters and pets.

DeLisa Minor Harris

DeLisa Minor Harris


DeLisa Minor Harris is a Fisk alumna who returned in 2016 to serve her alma mater after completing her master’s degree at the University of North Texas and spending four years with the Nashville Public Library.  Since her start at Fisk University, she has curated five exhibits including, “Lord, I’m Out Here on Your Word” -Fisk Jubilee Singers: Singing from Spirit to Spirit” and written two articles published in the enlarged two-volume set of the Encyclopedia of African American Business, ABC/CLIO. She served as an HBCU Library Alliance and Digital Library Federation (DLF) Authenticity Project Fellow and is now a Mellon-RBS Cultural Heritage Fellow (2020-2022) focused on conducting bibliographic research on the seed book collection of Fisk University’s “Negro Collection.

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