African-American History

An Oral History Project of Black Students at Pennsylvania State University a Half-Century Ago

An Oral History Project of Black Students at Pennsylvania State University a Half-Century Ago

Among the oral history subjects, there were mixed feelings about Penn State. Some have returned to campus with fond memories, while others do not have positive memories and refuse to come back to campus.

Western Kentucky University Honors its First Black Student

Western Kentucky University Honors its First Black Student

The board of regents at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, has approved the renaming of Northeast Hall to Munday Hall. The change honors Margaret Munday, the first African American student to enroll at the institution. Munday Hall will be the first building on campus named after an African American.

Johnson County in Iowa Isn't Changing Its Name, Just Who It Is Honoring

Johnson County in Iowa Isn’t Changing Its Name, Just Who It Is Honoring

Johnson County in Iowa was originally named for Richard Mentor Johnson, a slaveowner who served as vice president under President Martin Van Buren. Henceforth, Johnson County will honor Lulu Merle Johnson, who was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Iowa and taught at several historically Black colleges and universities.

Emory University Apologizes for Failing to Consider a Black Medical School Applicant in 1959

Emory University Apologizes for Failing to Consider a Black Medical School Applicant in 1959

In 1959, Marion Gerald Hood applied to the medical school at Emory University in Atlanta. After less than a week, Hood was informed that his application had been rejected. A letter from an admissions official stated “I am sorry I must write you that we are not authorized to consider for admission a member of the Negro race.”

Board Votes to Change Name of  Dixie State University to Utah Tech University

Board Votes to Change Name of Dixie State University to Utah Tech University

Dixie State University was founded in an area settled by Mormons from the South. It used to have a Rebel as a mascot and in 2012 a statue of Confederate soldiers was removed from campus. Today, African Americans make up 2 percent of the 11,000-member undergraduate student body.

Washington University in St. Louis Acquires the Papers of Author Charles Johnson

Washington University in St. Louis Acquires the Papers of Author Charles Johnson

University Libraries at Washington University in St. Louis has acquired the papers of Charles Johnson, the acclaimed author, cartoonist, and essayist who won the 1990 National Book Award for his novel Middle Passage.

Three Virginia Community Colleges to Change Their Names

Three Virginia Community Colleges to Change Their Names

Three Virginia Community Colleges have a green light to change their names and two other colleges are being directed to consider doing likewise after the State Board for Community Colleges voted unanimously to amend its community college naming policy.

Arkansas State University Honors Its First Black Faculty Member

Arkansas State University Honors Its First Black Faculty Member

The University of Arkansas System board of trustees has voted to rename the building housing the military science program as the Lieutenant Colonel Frederick C. Turner Jr. Military Science Building.

Vanderbilt University Acquires Large Collection of Dizzy Gillespie Memorabilia

Vanderbilt University Acquires Large Collection of Dizzy Gillespie Memorabilia

Vanderbilt’s partnership with the National Museum of African American Music has taken a giant step forward with the university’s inaugural acquisition — a rich collection of portraits, personal scrapbooks, signed albums, and more from the life and career of Dizzy Gillespie, a seminal figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz.

Washington and Lee University Trustees Vote Not to Change the Name of the Educational Institution

Washington and Lee University Trustees Vote Not to Change the Name of the Educational Institution

In July 2020, the faculty at Washington and Lee University supported changing the name of the university by a vote of 188 to 51. Now the university’s board of trustees has voted 22 to 6 to retain the name.

An Unwanted Surprise for the Wingate University Community

An Unwanted Surprise for the Wingate University Community

In 2018, Wingate University asked three employees to look into whether any buildings, monuments, or statues around campus were named after anyone with egregious pasts. Nothing was uncovered. But researchers at Wake Forest University recently discovered that Washington Manly Wingate enslaved African Americans.

Website Will Track Racial Residential Segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, Since 1957

Website Will Track Racial Residential Segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, Since 1957

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture is creating a map-based website that tracks how urban renewal changed the city of Little Rock in the decades following the Central High School desegregation crisis in 1957.

College of William and Mary Renames Buildings That Honored Confederates or Segregationists

College of William and Mary Renames Buildings That Honored Confederates or Segregationists

The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, has renamed three buildings and a department that currently honor supporters of the Confederacy or Jim Crow segregation. Two other buildings were renamed a year ago.

Texas Christian University Examines its Ties to Slavery, the Confederacy, and Racial Segregation

Texas Christian University Examines its Ties to Slavery, the Confederacy, and Racial Segregation

The research revealed that the father of the university’s founders owned slaves. The founders did not own slaves, but their upbringing did expose them to slavery and racism. The university’s founders were Confederate soldiers.

University of South Florida Debuts New Online Archive on African American History in Florida

University of South Florida Debuts New Online Archive on African American History in Florida

The curated collection pulls from decades-old acquisitions and includes unaltered photographs, newspaper archives, and personal narratives. The goal is to continue to build the portal into a larger collection that will help students, educators, researchers, and the general public learn about Black experiences in Florida.

University of Pennsylvania Has Announced Plans for Its 1,300 Piece Morton Collection of Crania

University of Pennsylvania Has Announced Plans for Its 1,300 Piece Morton Collection of Crania

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has announced its action plan regarding the repatriation or reburial of ancestors, including the remains of enslaved individuals and Black Philadelphians. Today, the Morton Collection consists of over 1,300 crania that range in date from ancient Egyptian times to the 19th century.

Western Carolina University Produces a Digital Archive of a Black Oral History Project

Western Carolina University Produces a Digital Archive of a Black Oral History Project

The special collections unit of the library at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, has digitized a collection of oral history interviews conducted between 1986 and 1989 with Black residents from Western North Carolina, all of whom were older than 69 at the time. 

Library of Congress Changes Subject Heading of the Tulsa Race Riot to the Tulsa Race Massacre

Library of Congress Changes Subject Heading of the Tulsa Race Riot to the Tulsa Race Massacre

The impetus for the Library of Congress Subject Heading Change Proposal Task Force was the members’ shared belief that naming matters: the words used to describe people and events affect perceptions and, in turn, those perceptions have concrete implications for social justice.

Baylor University Issues a Report on Its Founders' Ties to Slavery and the Confederacy

Baylor University Issues a Report on Its Founders’ Ties to Slavery and the Confederacy

First and foremost, the report stated that the institution will continue to be known as Baylor University and the statue of namesake Judge R.E.B. Baylor will maintain in its current location on Founders Mall, despite the fact that he enslaved people.

Scholars Assemble a Massive New Database on Enslaved People

Scholars Assemble a Massive New Database on Enslaved People

Scholars affiliated with the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland, the MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences at Michigan State University, and other institutions have established a new open-source database called Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade.

Consortium of Prestigious Academic Institutions to Collaborate on SlaveVoyages.org

Consortium of Prestigious Academic Institutions to Collaborate on SlaveVoyages.org

Emory University in Atlanta will now bring in a group of partners to help it maintain and enhance its SlaveVoyages.org project. The website documents nearly 50,000 transatlantic passages of slave ships between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Auburn University Honors Two of Its African American Trailblazers

Auburn University Honors Two of Its African American Trailblazers

Auburn University in Alabama admitted its first Black student in 1964 under a court order. Recently the university recognized its first Black graduate and the first African American to sit on its board of trustees by naming residence halls in their honor.

New Book to Detail the Work of the Colored Conventions Project

New Book to Detail the Work of the Colored Conventions Project

The Colored Conventions Project (CCP) is a scholarly and community research project focused on digitally preserving Black political activism from the 1830s to 1890s. The project operates two websites and its directors are releasing a new book on the initiative.

Rutgers University Acquires the Personal Library of Literary Scholar Cheryl Wall

Rutgers University Acquires the Personal Library of Literary Scholar Cheryl Wall

The Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, announced that it has acquired the personal library of Cheryl Wall. The collection includes more than 2,000 volumes. Dr. Wall, who died last spring was the Board of Governors Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English at Rutgers.

University of California's Vast Archive of FBI Files on Black Civil Rights Leaders

University of California’s Vast Archive of FBI Files on Black Civil Rights Leaders

In 1967, the FBI quietly unleashed a covert surveillance operation targeting “subversive” civil rights groups and Black leaders. The objective, according to an FBI memo was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the radical fight for Black rights — and Black power.

Colleges and Universities to Seek a Path Toward Reparations

Colleges and Universities to Seek a Path Toward Reparations

The Center for Social Solutions at the University of Michigan is leading a group of college and university scholars in an effort to examine possible avenues to provide reparations for African Americans and Indigenous people.

Carnegie Mellon University Students Develop a Video Game Based on August Wilson's Plays

Carnegie Mellon University Students Develop a Video Game Based on August Wilson’s Plays

In the  game – Explore August Wilson’s Hill District – players use a smartphone or tablet to work their way through the mission of filling a photo album with historical images from the 1910 and the 1960s to show how the buildings and infrastructure change over time.

University of Mississippi Continues to Study the History of Enslaved People on Campus

University of Mississippi Continues to Study the History of Enslaved People on Campus

The University of Mississippi Slavery Research Group was established in 2013. So far, the group has been able to name and identify only 11 enslaved people who labored on the campus.

Vermont Town Honors a Native Son and America's First African American College President

Vermont Town Honors a Native Son and America’s First African American College President

In 1856, Martin Henry Freeman was appointed president of the all-Black Allegheny Institute and Mission Church in Pittsburgh, which later became Avery College. Freeman moved to Liberia in 1863 and taught at and later served as president of Liberia College.

University of Maryland to Name New Residence Hall for Two Black Student Pioneers

University of Maryland to Name New Residence Hall for Two Black Student Pioneers

Whittle-Johnson Hall will honor Hiram Whittle, the first African American male to be admitted to the university in 1951, and Elaine Johnson Coates, the first African American woman to graduate with an undergraduate degree in 1959.

In Utah "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

In Utah “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

The board of trustees at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, voted unanimously to ask the Utah Board of Higher Education to change the name of the educational institution.

New Evidence Discovered That Shows Johns Hopkins Owned Slaves

New Evidence Discovered That Shows Johns Hopkins Owned Slaves

Johns Hopkins, the founder of the university in Baltimore that bears his name, has been thought of as a staunch abolitionist. But new evidence has come to light that one enslaved person was listed in his household in 1840 and four enslaved people were listed in 1850.

Student Project Details the History of Housing Segregation in Miami

Student Project Details the History of Housing Segregation in Miami

Using a platform that combines maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content, the students wrote the history of Miami’s segregation, slum clearance, public housing, and gentrification and detailed the tactics used to remove Black residents from their homes and neighborhoods.

Association of American Medical Colleges Changes Name of Its Most Prestigious Award

Association of American Medical Colleges Changes Name of Its Most Prestigious Award

In his 1910 report, Abraham Flexner wrote that Black students should be trained as “sanitarians” rather than surgeons and their primary role should be to protect White people from disease. “A well-taught negro sanitarian will be immensely useful; an essentially untrained negro wearing an M.D. degree is dangerous.”

Oklahoma State University Bestows Additional Honors on Its First Black Student

Oklahoma State University Bestows Additional Honors on Its First Black Student

In 1949, Nancy Randolph Davis became the first African-American student to enroll at what was then Oklahoma A&M College. Initially, she was required to sit in the hallway outside a classroom because of the color of her skin.

University of Pittsburgh Acquires the Extensive Archives of Playwright August Wilson

University of Pittsburgh Acquires the Extensive Archives of Playwright August Wilson

The collection — more than 450 boxes of materials — document a wide array of August Wilson’s career and interests from the 1960s to 2010s. The noted playwright was born in Pittsburgh in 1945 and called the city home until 1978.