Technological advances have kidnapped many of our young people and transported them through the screens of cell phones and tablets into the cyber world of Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, and Hulu. Though surrounded with “information”, many students are missing the opportunity to improve vocabulary, expand imagination, develop analytical thinking, dispel loneliness, and grow their knowledge base by reading a “good” book. The Fisk 100 offers a place to start.
This represents the third edition of Fisk 100, the former two appearing in 1980 and 1991. In each instance, the compilation of the reading list has been a corporate undertaking, involving faculty students, and administrators. About one fourth of the titles listed in the 1991 edition have been retained here. Additionally, each committee has included at least one member from the previous group of compilers to provide a consistency in philosophy and vision. Each revision has been mindful of Fisk’s status as a liberal arts institution that provides students with a broad experience. It sees the liberal education as encompassing both the theoretical and the experiential. Fisk has long understood that the world is far broader and richer than what is often considered in required or assigned reading lists. It remains cognizant that its students are a part of a shrinking world community thrown together by new global forces and rapid social and technological changes. Thus, the following list of texts includes items from a historical perspective as well as ethnically and geographically inclusive as representations of the human story.
A well-founded liberal education for undergraduates can never be packaged in one hundred books that students should read. And this is precisely the purpose that the selection panels all had in common: that the Fisk student should develop insatiable skills and interest in reading, and set a pattern here for lifelong growth and exploration through books. Let books take the Fisk student where he or she needs to go!
The list of books presented here has been created specifically for the Fisk University community. While it is not an exhaustive list, it reflects the broad educational experience envisioned for the student. It includes titles that are perennially important and ones that represent the inclusivity of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries of literary titles. The texts address issues such as identity, family, politics, freedom, responsibility, and women’s rights. These books illustrate the ways in which issues permeate periods, ethnic groups, and geographical areas. Thus, they ask readers to consider ways in which these issues and themes transcend race, gender, and periods. A reading of these texts allows the reader to capture the nature of the human condition and to understand that cultural specificity (i.e. African American, Native American) is complex and in many ways universal. Thus, the reading experience encourages readers to critically examine the new and to be open to the global expansion which is a part of present and future experiences.
The final Fisk 100 Committee consisted of Dr. Lean’tin L. Bracks, director of the Honors Program and professor in English; Dr. Katharine Burnett, junior faculty member in English; Lynwood Berry, assistant director of Alumni Affairs; LaFonda Davis, library assistant in Access Services; Cheryl Hamberg, associate librarian for Technical Services; Patricia McCarroll, coordinator of the Core Curriculum and lecturer, Department of Life and Physical Sciences; Dr. Sheila Peters, director of the QEP and professor in psychology, Dr. Jessie Carney Smith, dean of the library; and students Taylor Prescott, history major, and Brianna Lawrence, sociology major. The committee acknowledges with appreciation Rondrekus Wilkes, business/art major, for designing the cover. The committee also appreciates the titles suggested by faculty, students, President H. James Williams and other administrators, Fisk alumni and friends. And for making it all possible, the committee gratefully acknowledges the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for providing funds to the Franklin library through the HBCU Library Alliance and its program “Expanding Library Support for Faculty Research in HBCUs.”
May you, our readers and intended audience, be guided by the voice of the late Dr. L. M. Collins, Fisk legend, who was engaged in preparing the previous Fisk 100s and believed fully in these words: “Read On!”