Everyone Has A Story, Live A Life That Truly Matters | Telling the #HBCUstory

It’s been more than two years since I founded HBCUstory, Inc., an advocacy initiative to preserve, present and promote, inspiring stories of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. And what a ride it has been!

Everyone has a story. Here is mine.

In the fall of 1999, I entered Fisk University as 17 year-old, first-generation, college freshman. In 2003, I graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. And in 2011, I was one of four blacks — all HBCU graduates — to receive the first Ph.D.s in history, in the history of Vanderbilt University.

Crystal deGregoryMichael Sorrell

Last April, it was my privilege to welcome a slate of presenters from across the country to the Nashville Public Library for the inaugural HBCUstory Symposium. Our keynote speaker and recipient of the 2013 Storyteller of the Year Award was central to the symposium’s success.

It was about this time two years ago that I first Facebook messaged Paul Quinn College President Michael J. Sorrell to ask him if he’d offer the keynote address at the inaugural HBCUstory Symposium. First, I’d like to note that he was accessible. Second, as history will note, he is a man of his word. Few other presidents would have believed in what a stranger was doing, and wholeheartedly supported them–sight unseen. But, that’s the kind of guy Prez is, and that’s what makes him a nation builder. He is a wonderful example of why we are “Telling the ‪#‎HBCUstory‬.”

“Live a life that truly matters.” That was his challenge to us.
In 2008, he almost died. But, there were too many reasons why he couldn’t. The then newly-minted interim president of the oldest historically black college west of the Mississippi had too much to do. Driven by the “Four Ls of the Quinnite Leadership,” he is leading his college to one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of higher education. He is Paul Quinn College‘s 34th President Michael Sorrell, Esq.

Today, as founder and executive editor of HBCUstory, Inc. and as convenor of HBCUstory Symposium 2014, it’s my pleasure to invite you to join me, President Sorrell, and keynote speakers Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole and Dr. Ivory A. Toldson at the HBCUstory Symposium 2014 in Washington, D.C. on October 24 + 25 at the Association of Public Land-grant Universities.

Help grow HBCUstory’s commitment to the historic mission and contemporary vision of HBCUs. Visit Eventbrite to register online or make a contribution in honor of your HBCUstory!
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A historian and storyteller whose research interests include black higher education and college student activism, DR. CRYSTAL A. deGREGORY is a research fellow at Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Historic Preservation in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. A graduate of the historic Fisk, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee State universities, she is a passionate Historically Black College and University (HBCU) advocate, convener of the HBCUstory Symposium, and editor-in-chief of The Journal of HBCU Research + Culture. Follow her online at @HBCUstorian.