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Black American’s Mis-education Remains Our Downfall by Dr Ada Fisher

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As one of the last generations whose direct ancestors was a slave, a few points about my paternal grandfather, the Reverend Doctor Elijah John Fisher, Sr.  Born in 1858, this man without a college degree appreciated early the value of a good education.  A charismatic preacher of unparalleled excellence described in detail by his youngest son’s book The Master Slave, Elijah John Fisher: A Biography — detailingin this study of the past, one element of history, which can be a guide in forecasting the future.   My grandfather and his son, the Reverend Doctor Miles Mark Fisher, repeatedly answered the call of our Historically Black Colleges  and Universities (HBCUs). 

Born in Fulton County Georgia, Elijah J. Fisher not only ministered to several congregations, but also buried the dead.  Walking across state lines to capture his bride, Florida Neely who was a Native American  (Crete/?Seminole), together they raised nine children all of whom were sent to a Historically Black College, either Spelman College or Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.  During his work, he would lose a leg which became entrapped by his long tail coat running for a train which wouldn’t stop for blacks. 
The loss of funding and accreditation are nothing new for HBCUs and when such happened to Fisher’s Georgia home county’s two institutions, he raised the money to keep Spelman and Morehouse open.   For this service he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree.  He also put his skin in the game sending all of his children to one of these schools.
When the 1910 Flexner Report recommended that all of the then eleven existing Black medical schools be closed except Howard University’s and that at Meharry Medical School, such was done. This ignored the exceptional performance of black doctors from the Leonard Medical School at Shaw University whose students exceeded the national level for passing the state board as well as a faculty eventually absorbed as anchors for the UNC School of Medicine.  Soon thereafter, Meharry Medical School was slated for closure and Dr. Fisher proceeded to the pastorate of Nashville’s Spruce St. Baptist Church refurbishing that edifice and liquidating Meharry’s debts allowing them to remain open.  Taking his rest, Dr. Fisher (1858-1915) was buried in Chicago’s Mt.  Glenwood Cemetery which he founded and contains his spouse, many of his children, and notably the Honorable Elijah Muhammed.
Dr. Fisher’s daughter Gertrude, after attending Spelman, became the first licensed female pharmacist in Georgia.  His youngest child, Miles Mark Fisher attended Morehouse College and ended his educational studies at the University of Chicago with a PhD thesis detailing his sentential work and book Negro Slave Songs in the United States, the first decoding of the true meaning of these songs.   As pastor of the White Rock Baptist Church at Durham, NC, the younger Dr. Fisher’s activism and community work in recreation led to much recognition.   Many of his “Church House Boys” attended college.  His devotion to his alma mater Morehouse College would see then president Benjamin Elijah Mays sitting on our porch and developing the strategies needed to financially enhance that college’s future.  “Rev”, as he was affectionately known in the Durham Community, was devoted to Shaw University serving as Professor of Theology for 32 years without pay and where he was their go to for fund raising.  His works spoke for him leading to his receipt of their Honorary Doctorate degree.
My father preached that when integration came, it would be black principals and teachers who would lose their jobs and negatively impact the black community. He was neither an integrationist nor segregation but believed that separation could have its own rewards.  Further he believed that if we lost the HBCUs, there would be no gatekeeper on higher education for people of color and many would not be admitted elsewhere as standards were continually changed keeping us out.
Carter G.  Woodson is mentioned in some of my father’s letters.  His book, The Mis-education of the Negro rings true today for in all of our getting., we too often forget the basic requirement — “Know Thyself.”  One way to help our HBCUs is to forgive their federal debts prior to 1964 when the current Civil Rights legislation went into place.  HCBU problems have stemmed in part from how they are regarded federally and in states as well as how the institutions are managed.  This debt is not likely to be collected.   For those who want reparations, which aren’t going to happen, this debt forgiveness would be a feasible justifiable act.
Ada M. Fisher, MD, MPH is a licensed teacher, retired Corporate physician, former county school board member, speaker, author of Common Sense Conservative Prescriptions Solutions Good for What Ails Us Book 1 (available through Amazon.com) and is the NC Republican National Committeewoman.  Contact through DrAdaMFisher.com/

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