Fisk University has announced the single largest gift from a Nashville family since the school was established in 1866.
According to a Fisk University release, Amy and Frank Garrison gave a $2.5 million gift, which is the single largest gift the HBCU has received from a resident in the school’s hometown. The money will be used to establish an Endowed Chair in recognition of Diane Nash at Fisk’s John Lewis Center for Social Justice as well as an endowed scholarship fund.
Dr. Diane Nash was a former student at Fisk and student leader of the school’s civil rights movement, where she took part in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins. The Endowed Chair will be named the Diane Nash – Descendants of the Emancipation Chair.
In a statement, Nash thanked Fisk for naming the chair after her.
“This is the first and only endowed chair with my name and I am so pleased to have it at my alma mater. This is such an honor and it belongs not only to me, but also to the thousands of people who participated in the freedom movement with me.”
The attention and donations that HBCUs received last summer amid the Black Lives Matter movement has continued through 2021. Black celebrities, athletes, and entertainers have all chipped in over the past year to provide more attention, resources, and money to the education of Black men and women.
HBCUs in general are severely underfunded when compared to other public and private universities but are vital to the education of Black men and women. HBCUs account for about 3% of four-year nonprofit colleges, however, 80 percent of Black judges, 50 percent of Black lawyers and doctors, and 25 percent of Black undergraduates who earn degrees in STEM come from HBCUs.
In a statement, Amy Garrison called Fisk University an important asset for the city of Nashville.
“Fisk’s extraordinary contributions to the fabric of American life are well documented and today’s students are eager to continue in the footsteps of those legendary leaders, like Diane Nash and John Lewis, who helped shape a better future and set lasting examples of courage and purpose for all of us,” said Frank Garrison. Amy Garrison added “Fisk is such an important asset to our ever-changing city and we wanted to recognize that; Fisk is so deserving of city-wide support and we are very happy to be in a position to lend ours.”