Gabrielle Foreman’s Visit to Fisk University

Gabriel Foreman Visiting Scholar photo

P. Gabrielle Foreman (ΦBK, Amherst College) holds the Paterno Family Chair of Liberal Arts and is a professor of English, African American studies, and history at Penn State University. She is the founding faculty director of the award-winning Colored Conventions Project and a 2022 MacArthur Fellow. She is also a ΦBK Visiting Scholar, conducting visits to eight colleges and universities over the 2022-2023 academic year, including to all of ΦBK’s HBCU chapters: Fisk University, Howard University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College.

In January, the ΦBK chapter at Fisk University hosted Foreman for two days, where she participated in a Harlem Renaissance course, shared best practices and advice to undergraduates on navigating graduate school admissions, saw special collections that included the signatures of Fisk’s first ΦBK inductees in 1953 (including that of John Hope Franklin), and gave her public lecture on “The Forgotten History of the Colored Conventions and 19th Century Black Political Organizing,” among other events.

“On behalf of the 150 students in the W. E. B. Du Bois Honors Program at Fisk University—and the many, many talented students across our campus and in our chapter of Phi Beta Kappa—we extend our sincerest gratitude to Dr. P. Gabrielle Foreman for the generosity of her time and the special force of her thought that leaves a lighted trail behind her for the willing to follow,” wrote La Tanya Rogers, associate professor of literature and drama and director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Honors Program.

“I want to add a note of appreciation to Professor Pat McCarroll and the entire organizing team for the model of generosity and excellence and the spirit of exchange that was infused throughout every moment of this visit,” reflected Foreman. “From my meetings with President Sims, Provost Carr, and Dean Brown to every exchange with the host committee, with library leadership, and with the many Fisk students who were brimming with excitement and intelligence, I could not have been made to feel more at home.”

Foreman’s visit to Fisk is supported in part by a grant from the Teagle Foundation that will explore opportunities for greater HBCU chapter membership in the Society. Phi Beta Kappa’s goal is to double the number of HBCU chapters over the next decade, and Foreman is a dedicated and committed advocate for this initiative. 

P. Gabrielle Foreman in Jubilee Hall at Fisk University. In the background is a portrait of the original Jubilee Singers commissioned by Queen Victoria and painted by Edward Havell.
Pictured L-R: Emanuel Lawton, Junior Biology Major; Phyllis Freeman, Associate Professor of Biology and ΦBK Chapter President, Fisk University; Daikerra Sweat, Government Association President; Patricia McCarroll, Adjunct Instructor and Secretary of the ΦBK Chapter at Fisk; P. Gabrielle Foreman, ΦBK Visiting Scholar; LaTanya Rogers, Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program; Magana Kabugi, Assistant Professor of English, Fisk