Inaugural HBCUSTORY Symposium draws 500 presenters and guests

Pictured l-r: Bethany H. Tolson, Crystal A. deGregory, and Gail M. Williams received posthumous award for Beth Madison Howse.

More than 500 presenters and guests from HBCU communities nationwide gathered in Nashville or watched the streaming broadcast of the inaugural HBCUSTORY Symposium. A collection of scholarly research and case studies outlining the historic and contemporary value of historically Black colleges and universities, the symposium was the first conference of its kind to convene expert voices in areas of history, information science, fundraising, partnerships, LBGTQ studies, athletics and wellness.

“While I certainly don’t consider myself a woman of the cloth, I can proudly say that the approximately 100+ attendees of the inaugural HBCUSTORY Symposium braved torrential rain and a number of flash flood warnings to support our efforts,” said founder and Executive Editor Crystal A. deGregory.

“Many of them were reticent to leave after our dismissal even though the library announced several times that it was reaching the end of its day. It still feels like it was all a dream! I cannot put into words what I feel in at this moment.”

Pictured are Michael J. Sorrell, Esq., center, and Andrea Blackman, left, and Crystal A. deGregory, right.

Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell, attorney, was the keynote speaker for the event, and was also the recipient of the Storyteller of the Year Legend Award. The late Beth Madison Howse, a fourth generation Fiskite, and legendary Fisk Special Collections Librarian, was posthumously awarded the Storyteller of the Year Legacy Award.

Hosted by the main branch of the Nashville Public Library, the Nashville Public Library Foundation, Paul Quinn College, HBCU Digest, The HBCU Nation, Living Your Best Life Radio sponsored the symposium, and several Nashville based businesses and organizations.

Following the success of the inaugural HBCUSTORY Symposium, Dr. deGregory says plans are already underway for next year’s event, which is being designed to attract even more research and examples of HBCU excellence in 2014.

“Next year’s symposium promises to be an even bigger and better success,” said deGregory. “We will have the capacity to host even more attendees as well as showcase the research of many more presenters who represent the very best of the HBCU community. HBCUSTORY’s volunteer staff is already feverishly working towards this goal each and every day.”

Founded in 2012, HBCUSTORY, Inc. is a nonprofit advocacy initiative, preserving, presenting and promoting inspiring stories of the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) community’s past and present, for their future. Every day, the HBCU community is writing the HBCUSTORY. The believers in the mission and vision of HBCUs must leverage their HBCU stories as compelling evidence for the future of these educational, cultural and social treasures. At HBCUSTORY, they’re making memories matter.