Fisk University Professor Emeritus
Dillard University and Fisk University Alumnus


The largesse of Fisk University Professor Emeritus L.M. Collins, a man who was said to have “walked between the raindrops” is still inspiring generations of Fiskites. So signature, were, his tribly hat, and his greetings “First Class” and “Friend,” that the latter became his own special moniker.

Having been among the first graduates to cross Dillard University’s Avenue of the Oaks in 1936, Collins received a master’s degree from Fisk in 1937. Awarded the nation’s first Ph.D. in American Culture from Case Western Reserve University in 1945, the same year he began his legendary teaching career at Fisk. As the cousin to novelist, poet and librarian Arna Bontemps, his connection to the Harlem Renaissance through Fisk’s “Golden Era” was easily impressive. Dr. Collins, who liked to point out that he was not old enough to be in the renaissance, happily introduced subsequent generations of Fiskites to the people synonymous with the 1920s black cultural, social, and artistic movement. The last of the “Fisk Immortals,” his many students include the poet, writer and activist Nikki Giovanni and HBCUstory founder Dr. Crystal deGregory. On the 146th anniversary of the birth of Fisk alumnus Dr. W.E.B Du Bois, Collins peacefully transitioned from Fisk immortal to immortal life. We’d like to think that Friend, who loved a good joke and a great party, couldn’t miss even one more of Du Bois’ birthday parties.

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