- My Degree Is Black
Faith Manning | Fisk | '07
Welcome to the MDIB Yard Faith Manning!
Reppin': Fisk University
Occupation: Music Teacher
Can you briefly walk us through your HBCU story? How it started, how you got there, and how it helped you get to where you are today.
My first two years were at Dillard University. In my senior year in high school, a recruiter came and waived the application fee for us to apply. I was accepted and received an academic scholarship. Later, my parents and I drove down and I auditioned for a talent scholarship and was offered funds right on the spot. Thus in 2003, I was headed to New Orleans. In 2005 hurricane Katrina uprooted us from our beloved D.U. (Dilliard University) and I lost contact with my pipe organ professor. I ended up going to the University of North Texas for a semester and I absolutely hated it!!!! It was too big, too white, and I was the only black pipe organ major. I had to get outta there! I eventually got in contact with my organ professor from D.U. and he said “I’m at a small HBCU in Nashville called Fisk.” I replied “did you say HBCU? I’m on my way.” I applied to Fisk and three weeks later I was headed to Nashville Tennessee. Fisk changed my life. I grew so much musically and my Fisk degree has made my living since I graduated.
How did your HBCU shape you and impact your understanding of Black Culture?
One of the biggest things I learned at both of the HBCUs I attended is that black people are so diverse. Depending on where we’re from we act differently, we eat differently, we dress, differently, we talk differently, and we dance differently, but we get together and it’s all love. I also learned so many things about African culture that I’m certain I would not have known had I gone to a PWI.
Before we go any further, let's have a brag session! Tell us about your HBCU(s). What are y'all known for? What are the most exciting things about the yard?
Fisk University is most known for the Fisk Jubilee Singers and most recently the first HBCU gymnastics team. The most exciting thing for me on the yard in my day was the fashion and the gym parties. The hot box was where it was at.
What do you say to people who believe HBCUs are not as good as Predominantly White Institutions (PWI)?
Honestly, I give them a mighty word and it don’t come from the Lord. I don’t play about anti-blackness and when it comes to HBCUs, that’s what they always dive into. They get a good blessed word.
"I WAS GOING TO GIVE UP ON DIRECTING AND MY CHOIR TEACHER CUSSED ME ALL THE WAY OUT. MY CHOIR TEACHER, MY ORGAN PROFESSOR, AND MY PIANO PROFESSOR HAD ME HEMMED UP IN THE OFFICE AND THEY WORKED ME TIL I COULDN’T WORK NO MO!!! I’VE BEEN AN UNSTOPPABLE DIRECTOR EVER SINCE."
Tell us what you wish everyone in the world knew about the HBCU experience?
They are necessary!
Tell us about your most memorable HBCU experiences. (Yes we in yo business, tell us about all of 'em!)
Becoming a member of Zeta Phi Beta at Fisk Playing hide and go seek in the administration building at Dillard All of the choir tours and the choir games Nikki Giovanni speaking at Convocation my senior year One time I had to direct a song in the choir and I was having trouble. I was going to give up on directing it and my choir teacher cussed me all the way out. Well, I reached out for help. My choir teacher, my organ professor, and my piano professor had me hemmed up in the office and they worked me til I couldn’t work no mo!!! I’ve been an unstoppable director ever since. Trey Songz came to campus before he was famous and we played him to the left so bad. Riding the party buses to parties off campus. Having illegal parties in the dorms. I had a set of pots and pans, a burner, a Foreman grill, and a fry daddy in my room. I cooked every Friday and we had adult libations. Can’t get me to cook a fry now.
Was it like Hillman on "A Different World"?
As any alumni will tell you, HBCUs are nurturing environments. What person(s) during your HBCU experience deserves some flowers and recognition?
Whew so many Chris Duke my choir teacher at Fisk S. Carver Davenport my choir teacher at Dillard Anthony Williams my organ professor Linda Wynn one of my writing teachers Violet Bowers my piano teacher at Dillard Phillip Autry my piano teacher at Fisk Eugene Collins wasn’t my teacher but I was a choir director at our church and he looked out for me a whole lot
How are you using what you learned from them in your everyday life?
I am a teacher. I teach music at church and school.
Thank you for showing us Your Yard and telling us Your Experience. Before you go, tell us, what do you imagine for the future of HBCUs?
That we have all the resources that every university has.