A historian and storyteller whose research interests include black higher education and college student activism, DR. CRYSTAL A. DEGREGORY is the inaugural director of the Atwood Institute for Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal at Kentucky State University, where she is an associate professor of history. She is also the founder of the HBCUstory, an advocacy initiative preserving, presenting, and promoting inspiring stories of HBCUs past and present, for their future.
A favored speaker public speaker and sought-after commentator, Dr. deGregory offers a wide-range of expertise on multiple topics including history, culture, education, black fraternity and sorority life, and of course, HBCUs. In addition to regularly contributing to HBCUstory.org and The HBCU Digest, her words have appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, and The Tennessean. She has presented to audiences at TEDx, SXSWedu, the Southern Festival of Books, the Nashville Public Library, Nashville Public Television, The New School, Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Historic Preservation, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, Ford, Nissan North America, National Institutes of Health, and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She has also given talks and served on panels for Alcorn State, Fisk, Florida Memorial, Howard, Michigan-Ann Arbor, Tennessee State, Vanderbilt, and Western Kentucky universities. She also served as the graduation speaker for her alma mater Bishop Michael Eldon School, and was commencement speaker for the inaugural University of The Bahamas, Northern Campus graduation exercise.
Her newest works include an epilogue for The Athletic Experience at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and chapters in Black Colleges in the Diaspora: Global Perspectives on Identity and Culture and Gumbo for the Soul: Liberating Memoirs and Stories to Inspire Females of Color. Her book chapter “The Relationships of Revolution: Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Movement and Political Change in the Bahamas” was published as a part of In an Inescapable Network of Mutuality: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Globalization of an Ethical Ideal in August 2013. Dr. deGregory is also editor of Emancipation and the Fight for Freedom (2013), the sixth volume in the 12-part series Tennessee in the Civil War: The Best of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly. Her other published work includes contributions to HBCU Experience: The Book (2014), The Journal of Tennessee State University (2012), Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture (2011) and Freedom Facts and Firsts: 400 Years of the African American Civil Rights Experience (2009).
Hailed “young sister leader” by Spelman College and Bennett College for Women President Emerita Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Dr. deGregory is editor-in-chief of The Journal of HBCU Research + Culture, an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal which publishes scholarly articles relating to HBCUs. As the convener of the HBCUstory Symposium, she is responsible for securing host partnerships, keynote speakers, and sponsorships as well as for organizing two-day meetings of scholarly research and case studies outlining the historic and contemporary value of HBCUs. The convenings have featured more than 100 presenters to date. A finalist for the HBCU Awards “Alumna of the Year” recognition, Dr. deGregory was the recipient of the Fisk University “Women of Prominence” award, her high school’s 50th Anniversary “Golden Warriors” award, and was recognized as the “Hope Dealer of the Year” by the Washington, D.C.-based The H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative.
A proud native of The Bahamas and a Phi Beta Kappa alumna of the historic Fisk University, she also earned Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in history from Vanderbilt University, and a Master of Education from Tennessee State University. Among her many professional and civic affiliations is trusteeship of The Kamalamee Organization and membership with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.