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Famous Fisk University Alumni

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Updated June 14, 2019 18.7k views 93 items

List Rules People on this list must have gone to Fisk University and be of some renown.

List of famous alumni from Fisk University, with photos when available. Prominent graduates from Fisk University include celebrities, politicians, business people, athletes and more. This list of distinguished Fisk University alumni is loosely ordered by relevance, so the most recognizable celebrities who attended Fisk University are at the top of the list. This directory is not just composed of graduates of this school, as some of the famous people on this list didn't necessarily earn a degree from Fisk University.

The list you're viewing is made up of a variety of different graduates, including W.E.B. Du Bois and Marion Barry.

This list answers the questions “Which famous people went to Fisk University?” and “Which celebrities are Fisk University alumni?”
1
W.E.B. Du Bois is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Editor, Journalist, Historian

Age: Dec. at 95 (1868-1963)

Birthplace: Great Barrington, Massachusetts

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois ( doo-BOYSS; February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor. Born ...more

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#431 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #70 of 341 The Greatest American Writers of All Time #25 of 108 Famous People Who Use Initials In Their Names

2
Ida B. Wells is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Journalist, Women's rights activist

Age: Dec. at 69 (1862-1931)

Birthplace: Holly Springs, Mississippi

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an African-American investigative journalist, educator, and an early leader in the civil rights movement. She was one of the founders ...more
3
Otis Boykin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Inventor, Engineer

Age: Dec. at 62 (1920-1982)

Birthplace: Dallas, Texas

Otis Frank Boykin (August 29, 1920, Dallas, Texas – March 13, 1982, Chicago, Illinois) was an African-American inventor and engineer.Boykin patented 28 electronic devices. One of his early ...more
4
Charles Diggs is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Politician

Age: Dec. at 76 (1922-1998)

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

Charles Coles Diggs Jr. (December 2, 1922 – August 24, 1998) was an African-American politician from the U.S. state of Michigan who served in the state senate and U.S. House of Representatives. ...more

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#10 of 45 Corrupt Democrats #11 of 61 Corrupt U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen

5
Alcee Hastings is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Judge, Politician

Age: 82

Birthplace: Altamonte Springs, Florida, United States of America

Alcee Lamar Hastings (born September 5, 1936) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 20th congressional district. The district includes most of the majority-black precincts in and around Fort ...more
6
James Weldon Johnson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Poet, Novelist, Author

Age: Dec. at 67 (1871-1938)

Birthplace: Jacksonville, Florida

James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, civil rights activist. He was married to civil rights activist Grace Nail ...more
7
Marion Barry is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Politician, Actor

Age: 82

Birthplace: Itta Bena, Mississippi, United States of America

Marion Shepilov Barry (born Marion Barry Jr.; March 6, 1936 – November 23, 2014) was an American politician who served as the second mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991, and ...more

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#141 of 211 200+ Celebrities Who Went to Rehab #11 of 15 What Disgraced Politicians Did After Their Falls From Grace #1 of 11 Politicians Who Went To Rehab

8
Julius Lester is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Musician, Author, Writer

Age: 80

Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri

Julius Bernard Lester (January 27, 1939 – January 18, 2018) was an American writer of books for children and adults and an academic who taught for 32 years (1971–2003) at the University of ...more
9
Nikki Giovanni is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Activist, Poet, Professor

Age: 75

Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee

Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni Jr. (born June 7, 1943) is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the world's most well-known African-American poets, ...more

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#68 of 111 The Best American Poets #304 of 373 The Greatest Poets of All Time #97 of 214 The Best Poets of the 20th Century

10
John Hope Franklin is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Historian, Professor, Author

Age: Dec. at 94 (1915-2009)

Birthplace: Rentiesville, Oklahoma, United States of America

John Hope Franklin (January 2, 1915 – March 25, 2009) was an American historian of the United States and former president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American ...more
11
David Levering Lewis is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Biographer, Historian, Professor

Age: 82

Birthplace: Little Rock, Arkansas

David Levering Lewis (born May 25, 1936) is an American historian, a Julius Silver University Professor, and a professor of history at New York University. He is twice winner of the Pulitzer ...more
12
Mathew Knowles is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Record producer, Businessperson, Film Producer

Age: 68

Birthplace: Gadsden, Alabama

Mathew Knowles (born January 9, 1952) is an American record executive, talent manager, and businessman. He is best known for being the manager of Destiny's Child. He also managed his daughters ...more
13
Percy Lavon Julian is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Chemist, Professor, Scientist

Age: Dec. at 76 (1899-1975)

Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899 – April 19, 1975) was a research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was the first to synthesize the natural ...more
14
Lil Hardin Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Arranger, Jazz Pianist, Musician

Age: Dec. at 73 (1898-1971)

Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee

Lillian "Lil" Hardin Armstrong (née Hardin; February 3, 1898 – August 27, 1971) was a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, singer, and bandleader. She was the second wife of Louis ...more

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#551 of 696 The Best Rock Vocalists #1,234 of 2,040 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #2,213 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time

15
Victor O. Frazer is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Victor O. Frazer Politician

Age: 75

Birthplace: Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands

Victor O. Frazer (born May 24, 1943) was a Delegate from the United States Virgin Islands to the United States House of Representatives. He was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. He attended ...more
16
William L. Dawson is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Lawyer

Age: Dec. at 84 (1886-1970)

Birthplace: Albany, Georgia, United States of America

William Levi Dawson (April 26, 1886 – November 9, 1970) was an American politician who represented a Chicago, Illinois district for more than 27 years in the United States House of ...more
17
Hazel R. O'Leary is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Politician

Age: 81

Birthplace: Virginia, United States of America

Hazel Reid O'Leary (born May 17, 1937) was the seventh United States Secretary of Energy, from 1993 to 1997, appointed by President Bill Clinton. She was the first woman and first African ...more
18
Nella Larsen is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Nurse, Novelist, Writer

Age: Dec. at 73 (1891-1964)

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

Nellallitea "Nella" Larsen, born Nellie Walker (April 13, 1891 – March 30, 1964), was an American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance. Working as a nurse and a librarian, she published ...more

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#113 of 256 The Best Gay Authors #30 of 48 The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

19
Wade H. McCree is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Judge, Lawyer

Age: Dec. at 67 (1920-1987)

Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa, United States of America

This article is about Wade McCree Jr (d. 1987). The "Shirtless Selfie Judge" from Detroit named Wade McCree is this Wade McCree's son, and does not have a Wikipedia article of his own. ...more
20
W. C. Handy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Songwriter, Musician, Bandleader

Age: Dec. at 85 (1873-1958)

Birthplace: Florence, Alabama, United States of America

William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a composer and musician, known as the Father of the Blues. An African American, Handy was one of the most influential ...more

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#2,092 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #93 of 252 The Best Blues Artists of All Time #14 of 57 The Greatest Cornetists of All Time

21
Constance Baker Motley ... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Judge, Lawyer

Age: Dec. at 84 (1921-2005)

Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America

Constance Baker Motley (September 14, 1921 – September 28, 2005) was an African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, and Borough President of Manhattan, New York City. ...more
22
Jimmie Lunceford is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Saxophonist, Musician, Bandleader

Age: Dec. at 45 (1902-1947)

Birthplace: Fulton, Mississippi

James Melvin Lunceford (June 6, 1902 – July 12, 1947) was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader in the swing era.
23
Aaron Douglas is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Artist

Age: Dec. at 81 (1898-1979)

Birthplace: Topeka, Kansas, United States of America

Aaron Douglas (May 26, 1899 – February 3, 1979) was an American painter, illustrator and visual arts educator. He was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He developed his art career ...more
24
Mandisa is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Music artist, Singer

Age: 42

Birthplace: Citrus Heights, California, United States of America

Mandisa Lynn Hundley (born October 2, 1976), known professionally as Mandisa, is an American gospel and contemporary Christian recording artist. Her career began as a contestant in the fifth ...more

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#16 of 161 The Best American Idol Contestants Ever #23 of 50 The Greatest Female Gospel Singers #120 of 181 The Best Female Musicians of All Time

25
Etta Zuber Falconer is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Fisk University Alumni
Mathematician

Age: Dec. at 69 (1933-2002)

Birthplace: Tupelo, Mississippi

Etta Zuber Falconer (21 November 1933 – 19 September 2002) was an educator and mathematician the bulk of whose career was spent at Spelman College, where she eventually served as department head ...more