Academics | Fisk University

Fisk University and Ripon College Conference

Fisk University and Ripon College have established a relationship which will show the world that understanding, respect and affection can grow between institutions and individuals from different backgrounds. We therefore now commit ourselves and our institutions to further strengthen this relationship… to establish a quality of understanding, to enhance the growing respect and to encourage the breadth and depth of affection that will show forth as an example to other institutions and individuals.

-Declaration establishing Fisk/Ripon exchange

This conference is intended to engender and foster a series of conversations among faculty, students and administration/staff of Fisk University and Ripon College around the following questions as experienced from the perspectives of African-American minority cultures and Caucasion majority cultures: Where have I come from? Where am I going? How do I get there?

These queries are posed with the recognition that for many African-Americans, both the questions and the answers given to them are strongly influenced by considerations of race, while for most members of the majority cultures, race enters only as an occasional and special factor: that is, for some Americans their own race is a fundamental fact of personal identity, while for others appears only as an incidental consideration of group membership or as a term of contrast.

Fisk University and Ripon College have dedicated themselves to transcending the barriers of race, not by ignoring them but by confronting them in the context of a common humanity and a common tradition.

Building on our joint commitment to liberal education and our joint membership in the Council of Higher Education of the United Church of Christ, we have reached out hands of friendship to each other’s campus, have been host and guest in each other’s classes, residence halls and homes, and have shared in sponsoring annual conferences on the issues of race.

Our conference work — and our informal times together as friends and colleagues — has two important goals. First, we come together to continue our struggle to understand how race overtly and covertly influences our lives as Americans; we rely on each other’s help and teachings to truly see how deeply imbedded the problems and dangers of racism are in our history and our country. Second, after we have wrestled with the ugliness of racism in our country, we also need to call on each other for support and solidarity, to give ourselves strength to continue the struggle into the future. This conference, now in its fifth year, has moved powerfully toward both those goals, and we are confident that it will continue to move toward our goals and toward our ultimate goal of social justice.