All posts tagged: Negro spirituals

The College Choir That Changed the Course of American Music

The College Choir That Changed the Course of American Music

One of the treasures of Black history is preserved in a plain gray box, stashed away in a quiet room. In Nashville one morning, as the Fisk University campus shimmered in the summer heat, I walked into the archives of the Franklin Library to see it: a collection of papers from just after the Civil War about the founding of the university and others like it. I put on a pair of white cloth gloves to handle the pages. The stories I read in the collection were real, but they also felt to me like cosmology, recounting the beginnings of Black institutions I love and the arduous labors and journeys of the people who made them. The world described in the archive seemed especially malleable: open to possibility, and open to being shaped according to the hopes of the Black people in it. Explore the December 2023 Issue Check out more from this issue and find your next story to read. View More One story in particular stood out, from the diary of a young …