HBCU FEATURE-RALPH RIDDLE JR. ATTENDED FISK UNIVERSITY, TENNESSEE
Ralph Riddle Jr. chose Fisk University because of its rich history that boasted of many great African Americans attendees. “I readily identified with its powerful legacy that resonated during the time I graduated high which was at the peak of the civil rights/social justice movement. It was important for me to position myself amidst what I considered some of the strongest minds and advocates for social change at that time,” he said. It also had great benefits as a student/athlete according to Ralph’s skill set. He had a grownup friend, John Collins, who was a Nashville resident and was close friends with the basketball coach who was legendary in his own right. Collins invited Ralph to campus for a tryout and was immediately encouraged to go home, pack his bags and return promptly to play for the team. He initially came to Fisk on a golf scholarship and now had additional financial aid to see him through graduation. It proved to be a very exciting time in his young life. “I loved Fisk because the student body was made up of so many educated, affluent and well to do students. I met talented black folks from all over the country (and some international, as well).” he shared proudly. “We became family and remain as such as “sons and daughters forever on the altar!” We formed bonds and relationships that have withstood the test of time and distance.” Riddle Jr. said that “having attended he knew how it felt to be treated as a number with no personal connection. “I reveled at how professors at Fisk cared about us successfully completing our college education” to the point of “taking pay cuts every year I was there.” “They showed us how much we mattered. Fisk didn’t just want our money. They wanted us to be successful and represent with excellence,” he added.
Ralph Riddle Jr. added, “Many of us attended the University’s 150th Anniversary. Now that was something to write home about. It was SWEET! We have numerous closed Facebook groups of “Fiskites” ranging from 500 to 1500 members each and still flock to reunions every chance we get. I’ve attended the last three years in a row. Last year, 2017, was my 40th! We hung out like wet clothes! I have a gazillion pictures to share!”
Fisk University, named for its founder Clinton B. Fisk, was founded in 1866 and erected on 40 acres of land which is now identified as a national historic site on the National Registry of Historic Places. Initially it was Called the Fisk Freed Colored School by the United Church of Christ. Fisk University boasts of approximately 700 students and their school colors are gold and blue. They are identified as the Fisk Bulldogs. The Fisk Jubilee Singers was organized in 1871 as the school’s fundraising student choir. Notable graduates include Diane Nash, student organizer of Nashville, TN student sit-in/protest; Senator Constance Baker Motley, Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington D.C.; Inventor Otis Boykin; the late (Elizabeth) Hortense Golden Canady, national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; the late Charles Diggs, U.S. Congressman; WEB DuBois, the first African American to earn an PhD from Howard University; John Hope Franklin, historian; Nikki Giovanni, poet/writer; Alcee Hastings, U.S. Congressman; John Lewis, U.S. Congressman and a host of esteemed faculty that include Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, pioneering chemist and James Weldon Johnson, songwriter.