HBCU Storyteller Spotlight | Geo Cooper, L.M. Collins + Fisk University

HBCU Storyteller Spotlight

Fisk alumnus Geo Cooper, pays tribute to the late Professor Emeritus L.M. Collins, ’37 on Facebook

Fiskites have heavy hearts tonight. So much can be said about the life of one of America’s greatest scholars. Dr. Leslie M. Collins made an impression on every student who had the good fortune to be in his presence. We Fiskites were always proud to say a scholarly mind such as his belonged to Fisk. Now he has gone on, joining the likes of Professor Marcellus Brooks, Dr. John Hope Franklin, and so many other of Fisk’s “Immortals.” I can hear his voice with that iconic greeting “FRIEND!” So signature, it became his own special moniker (one had only to say “FRIEND” to identify Dr. L.M.Collins as the subject of a conversation!). I also personally can recall him lifting his eyes to say “George” as he was a lover of finery (no something more… a “connoisseur” of finer things) such as a “Nocturne” by Chopin or a “Liebestraum” by Franz Liszt. You see, Fisk is that kind of place where an eminent professor like L.M.C. would know of a promising yet rough-around-the-edges student like me. And not just me. Many Fisk professors knew the “particulars” about any number of students, even when the student’s area of study wasn’t in that professor’s department. They would take personal interest in order to instill in students, what was needed to go out and “MAKE FISK PROUD!” For those who never met this great and beloved professor, please know that he was LIVING, WALKING and BREATHING HISTORY! One of the last direct links to the greatness that is Black American History and Culture of the Harlem Renaissance. Dr. Leslie M. Collins was the REAL DEAL and we have lost, Fisk has lost, AMERICA has truly lost a treasure. Rest well good soul for you made an impact of generations….MANY, MANY GENERATIONS!

Dr. Collins
Fisk Professor Emeritus L.M. Collins ’37 (center) is flanked by his Fisk friends including Geo Cooper ’82 (front row, second from left).
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A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Crystal A. deGregory, Ph.D. is a graduate of the historic Fisk University ’03. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Vanderbilt University. She also holds a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction from Tennessee State University, ’14, where she formerly taught in the department of history, geography and political science. A professional historian and passionate HBCU advocate, she is editor-in-chief of the forthcoming The Journal of HBCU Research + Culture. She is also a regular contributor to HBCU Digest, is a co-host of Black Docs radio show, and offers a wide-range of expertise on multiple topics including history, culture, education, black fraternity and sorority life and of course HBCUs. Follow her on twitter at @HBCUstorian, visit her website at www.CrystaldeGregory.com, or contact her via email at cadegregory@HBCUstory.com.