Fisk University / Prose and Poetry

They Came: Fisk at 150 | Crystal A. deGregory ’03

On this day in 1866,
they came

Despite being pelted by rocks
and assailed with racist diatribes,
they came

Working during the day
for lessons at night,
they came

Walking barefoot,
they came

Ranging in ages from 7 to 70,
they came

They came to the Fisk School

More than 100 years later,
I came
to Fisk University,
fresh-faced and bright-eyed

I fell in love
with Fisk

She loved me back

She gave me a crown
and helped me to grow into it

And with it,
I grew beyond it

But I never forgot her story

Holding it in my heart,
I tell it where’er I go

Hoping one hundred and fifty years
from this day,
someone who comes
will say,
“she was a daughter, true”

Beckoned by its mellow hue,
they, too,
would have found their way–


Crystal deGregory Headshot 2012 Crystal A. deGregory, Ph.D. is a graduate of the historic Fisk University ’03. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Vanderbilt University. She also holds a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction from Tennessee State University, ’14, where she formerly taught in the department of history, geography and political science. A professional historian and passionate HBCU advocate, she is editor-in-chief of the forthcoming The Journal of HBCU Research + Culture. She is also a regular contributor to HBCU Digest, is a co-host of Black Docs radio show, and offers a wide-range of expertise on multiple topics including history, culture, education, black fraternity and sorority life and of course HBCUs. Follow her on twitter at @HBCUstorian, visit her website at, or contact her via email at

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