Tag Archives: Reconstruction

The Story of Robert Smalls, and South Carolina

By 1900, only 34 States had compulsory Public Education systems – 4 in the South. During the reconstruction period when black legislators were elected, Public Schools were established in some states of the South, several were shut down after Reconstruction in Southern States.

The story of Robert Smalls still resonates today – as does the Southern Myth of Reconstruction.

The tale of a former slave sheds light on South Carolina’s presidential primaries

It is impossible not to think of history as we watch the poll results rolling in from South Carolina, where Clinton and Sanders vie for the state’s largely African American Democratic vote, and where Trump handily won the Republican contest, where exit polls indicated that 96% of voters were white .

Much of the state’s history – as the birthplace of secession and a stronghold of Jim Crow segregation – is shameful, and its repercussions are not entirely past. But looking back at one of the state’s legendary African American political figures might help us understand how the state decides to vote come this weekend, especially as the question of reparations becomes a national debate.

Robert Smalls was a slave who stole a Confederate ship during the Civil War and brought it to the Union fleet, gained his freedom, managed to get elected to the state legislature, and ultimately served five terms in Congress .

Smalls’ mother was a slave to Henry McKee, but as a young boy, Smalls was rented out in Charleston, where he learned how to pilot ships. When the civil war broke out – it started in Charleston – he and a number of other slaves worked on the Planter, a Confederate ship, which he daringly captured in the middle of the night and piloted through the mine-infested waters, first to pick up family members of the enslaved crew, and then to the Union blockade of the harbor.

He managed to successfully deliver the ship, which he continued to pilot throughout the war, becoming something of a cause célèbre. In 1865, he brought the Planter to Philadelphia, where he was to give a talk. He was kicked off of the segregated trolley on his way back to the ship, prompting a movement that eventually desegregated that city’s public transportation.

After the war, Smalls ran a store, a newspaper, and served in the state legislature – where he fought for and won the first public education in the state – before being elected to Congress for five terms.

His old home in Beaufort – at 511 Prince St – is marked a historical site and it is is, in many ways, a perfect monument to post-reconstruction race relations in America.

Smalls bought the home in a tax sale when he returned after the war. His mother had worked there raising the McKee children even though her own son, Robert, had been sent away. Now he was back and he legally owned the house.

“After the war, Henry McKee, who was most likely Robert’s father, died,” said Helen B Moore, Smalls’ great granddaughter, who manages a travelling exhibit dedicated to Small. “Mary Bowles McKee was left alone and was both physically and mentally ill . She wandered her way back to the house where she had lived for many years. She came to the door and Smalls, of course, recognised her. She wanted to come in and he allowed her to do so – she was quite ill and quite demented and had no idea the house had been sold.”

She did not remember that the house was no longer her property, according to Moore, but also probably didn’t realise that Smalls himself was not her property anymore.

Moore says the story was passed down through family lore, and no one can say whether it’s true or not. But we can imagine the horror of those conversations as Smalls tried to gently remind this woman, day after day, again and again, that they were equals, he was in the legislature, and he was not her property.

In many ways, the story of Robert Smalls and Mary McKee is the story of race relations in America for the last 150 years. White America continually slips into a kind of dementia, repeatedly forgetting that the world has changed, that we white people don’t own African Americans, that we are not better than them, more valuable, or more deserving of reward. In order to awaken ourselves – and I write this as a white male born and raised in South Carolina – perhaps we need a new reconstruction.

The “ Bargain of 1877 ” ended reconstruction in the south, and we fell into the folly of Jim Crow when the state constitution of 1895 legally enshrined segregation. We were awakened and reminded again of the errors of our ways during the civil rights movement, but quickly drifted into a new form of the dementia as the drug war and mass incarceration followed through.

Last month, Hillary Clinton gaffed at an Iowa debate by implying that reconstruction was a bad time in the nation’s history. The question – who was her favorite president – was an attempt to catch her between Obama and her husband Bill. Instead, she tripped into another hole when she chose that safest of presidential heroes, Abraham Lincoln.

“I don’t know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly,” she said.

His old home in Beaufort – at 511 Prince St, which he purchased at tax auction had been the former residence of the McKee family which were his slavemasters prior to the War

“But instead, you know, we had reconstruction, we had the reinstigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the south feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.”

Hillary had backed herself into the old-school view of “the horrors of reconstruction”, and the response, most notably by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic , was fierce and immediate.

Eric Foner, a professor of history at Columbia University and the author of numerous books on the subject, said: “Here’s why Hillary’s remark struck a chord with people, a negative chord … The old view of reconstruction as a period of misgovernment, of punishment of the white south and that kind of thing, the underpinnings of that are still around today. They reverberate today – the notion that giving rights to black people is a punishment to whites in some way.”

Foner suggests that the discussion of reconstruction is not really about the past. “A lot of the questions that are being debated in our campaign right now are reconstruction issues. You know, who’s a citizen, who should be a citizen? How do you deal with terrorism? What’s the balance of power between the federal government and the states? And the right to vote? In other words, we are seeing issues of reconstruction really fought out right now.”...Read the Rest Here


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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Black History, Democrat Primary, Giant Negros


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Black Jesus – Forensic Scientists Claim Jesus Would have Looked…Brown

Getting past the argument of whether Jesus existed or not, some British scientists, assisted by Israeli archaeologists, have come up with what they believe Jesus would have looked like…

My view? Blue eyed blonde haired Jesus is an impossibility. Jesus, by the Bible was a middle eastern Jew, meaning he would look like the locals.


The Real Face Of Jesus

Advances in forensic science reveal the most famous face in history.

From the first time Christian children settle into Sunday school classrooms, an image of Jesus Christ is etched into their minds. In North America he is most often depicted as being taller than his disciples, lean, with long, flowing, light brown hair, fair skin and light-colored eyes. Familiar though this image may be, it is inherently flawed. A person with these features and physical bearing would have looked very different from everyone else in the region where Jesus lived and ministered. Surely the authors of the Bible would have mentioned so stark a contrast.

On the contrary, according to the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion, Judas Iscariot had to indicate to the soldiers whom Jesus was because they could not tell him apart from his disciples. Further clouding the question of what Jesus looked like is the simple fact that nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus described, nor have any drawings of him ever been uncovered.

There is the additional problem of having neither a skeleton nor other bodily remains to probe for DNA. In the absence of evidence, our images of Jesus have been left to the imagination of artists. The influences of the artists’ cultures and traditions can be profound, observes Carlos F. Cardoza-Orlandi, associate professor of world Christianity at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. “While Western imagery is dominant, in other parts of the world he is often shown as black, Arab or Hispanic.” And so the fundamental question remains: What did Jesus look like?

An answer has emerged from an exciting new field of science: forensic anthropology. Using methods similar to those police have developed to solve crimes, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archeologists, have re-created what they believe is the most accurate image of the most famous face in human history.

The Body As Evidence

An outgrowth of physical anthropology, forensic anthropology uses cultural and archeological data as well as the physical and biological sciences to study different groups of people, explains A. Midori Albert, a professor who teaches forensic anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Experts in this highly specialized field require a working knowledge of genetics, and human growth and development. In their research they also draw from the fields of primatology, paleoanthropology (the study of primate and human evolution) and human osteology (the study of the skeleton). Even seemingly distant fields like nutrition, dentistry and climate adaptation play a role in this type of investigation.

While forensic anthropology is usually used to solve crimes, Richard Neave, a medical artist retired from The University of Manchester in England, realized it also could shed light on the appearance of Jesus. The co-author of Making Faces: Using Forensic And Archaeological Evidence, Neave had ventured in controversial areas before. Over the past two decades, he had reconstructed dozens of famous faces, including Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, and King Midas of Phrygia. If anyone could create an accurate portrait of Jesus, it would be Neave.

Reconstructing Jesus

Matthew’s description of the events in Gethsemane offers an obvious clue to the face of Jesus. It is clear that his features were typical of Galilean Semites of his era. And so the first step for Neave and his research team was to acquire skulls from near Jerusalem, the region where Jesus lived and preached. Semite skulls of this type had previously been found by Israeli archeology experts, who shared them with Neave.

With three well-preserved specimens from the time of Jesus in hand, Neave used computerized tomography to create X-ray “slices” of the skulls, thus revealing minute details about each one’s structure. Special computer programs then evaluated reams of information about known measurements of the thickness of soft tissue at key areas on human faces. This made it possible to re-create the muscles and skin overlying a representative Semite skull.

The entire process was accomplished using software that verified the results with anthropological data. From this data, the researchers built a digital 3D reconstruction of the face. Next, they created a cast of the skull. Layers of clay matching the thickness of facial tissues specified by the computer program were then applied, along with simulated skin. The nose, lips and eyelids were then modeled to follow the shape determined by the underlying muscles.

A Matter Of Style

Two key factors could not be determined from the skull—Jesus’s hair and coloration. To fill in these parts of the picture, Neave’s team turned to drawings found at various archeological sites, dated to the first century. Drawn before the Bible was compiled, they held crucial clues that enabled the researchers to determine that Jesus had dark rather than light-colored eyes. They also pointed out that in keeping with Jewish tradition, he was bearded as well.

It was the Bible, however, that resolved the question of the length of Jesus’s hair. While most religious artists have put long hair on Christ, most biblical scholars believe that it was probably short with tight curls. This assumption, however, contradicted what many believe to be the most authentic depiction: the face seen in the image on the famous—some say infamous—Shroud of Turin. The shroud is believed by many to be the cloth in which Jesus’s body was wrapped after his death. Although there is a difference of opinion as to whether the shroud is genuine, it clearly depicts a figure with long hair. Those who criticize the shroud’s legitimacy point to 1 Corinthians, one of the many New Testament books the apostle Paul is credited with writing. In one chapter he mentions having seen Jesus—then later describes long hair on a man as disgraceful. Would Paul have written “If a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him” if Jesus Christ had had long hair? For Neave and his team this settled the issue. Jesus, as drawings from the first century depict, would have had short hair, appropriate to men of the time.

The historic record also resolved the issue of Jesus’s height. From an analysis of skeletal remains, archeologists had firmly established that the average build of a Semite male at the time of Jesus was 5 ft. 1 in., with an average weight of about 110 pounds. Since Jesus worked outdoors as a carpenter until he was about 30 years old, it is reasonable to assume he was more muscular and physically fit than westernized portraits suggest. His face was probably weather-beaten, which would have made him appear older, as well….Read more here

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Posted by on December 14, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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Oxfam Slams Haiti Reconstruction Failure

Hate to say it – but OxFam is correct in several key aspects. Almost none of the major infrastructure projects needed to provide a basis for Reconstruction have started. The cholera epidemic’s spread is almost totally due to inaction in clearing the rubble, and thus the drains which would have moved the polluted water away from the camps and towns – instead of forming fetid lakes. This isn’t all a failure of the IHRC – a good bit of this falls on the International community infighting preventing any effective means of launching projects. There also seems to be a lack of overall planning relative to some sort of priority step by step Project Plan of what needs to be done in what order.

All of which isn’t to negate the fact that the Preval controlled segment of the Haitian Government has been problematic, at best in resisting, and in some cases outright blocking  efforts to perform reconstruction.

The bad news is, things like building Wastewater Plants, municipal water systems, Power Plants, roads, and other core infrastructure such as ports – take years of construction work. There seems to be a lot of looking for short term fixes, but very little focus on building sustainable systems. Clinton neither has the power or authority to do that by himself as it will result in tearing down large segments of the Port au Prince region and rebuilding it from scratch requiring things like “eminent domain” and an ability to change and fix local laws.

Because there is no surviving septic system or drain system in portions of the Port au Prince area, residents of the tent cities commonly dump dirty water from dishes or personal washing on the ground, spreading cholera.

I’ve heard in the news that Clinton doesn’t want to make the same mistake he made in the way he removed Aristide. I think the mistake was removing ONLY Aristide, and not his enablers.

For a more detailed coverage of what Oxfam is saying – go here.

Relief agency slams Haiti quake recovery “quagmire”

Reconstruction has barely begun in Haiti a year after its catastrophic earthquake, a leading international charity said on Wednesday in a report sharply critical of a recovery commission led by former President Bill Clinton.

There was a tremendous outpouring of support from around the world after the January 12 quake that devastated much of the poor Caribbean country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, killing about a quarter of a million people and leaving more than a million homeless.

But the report by UK-based Oxfam, while acknowledging that disaster recovery can be slow even in developed countries, said efforts in Haiti had been paralyzed by a lack of leadership from the Haitian government and the international community.

“As Haitians prepare for the first anniversary of the earthquake, close to one million people are reportedly still displaced. Less than 5 percent of the rubble has been cleared, only 15 percent of the temporary housing that is needed has been built and relatively few permanent water and sanitation facilities have been constructed,” the report said.

Money is part of the problem, Oxfam said. The report cited U.N. figures showing that less than 45 percent of the $2.1 billion pledged for Haiti’s reconstruction during 2010 at an international donor conference in New York in March had actually been disbursed.

More importantly, however, the report said a reconstruction commission chaired by Clinton and Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive had fallen short in many crucial areas.

“So far, the commission has failed to live up to its mandate,” it said. “The commission is a key element for reconstruction and it must cut through the quagmire of indecision and delay.”

Set up as the main disaster management body in April, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) was supposed to improve coordination of international aid projects, build state capacity for their implementation and bring donors and government actors together to lead the reconstruction.

The commission has met only a few times since it was formed, however, and the report said it was plagued by “often contradictory policies and priorities” and needed to do far more to adequately consult and communicate its role and decisions to the Haitian people.


In one glaring example of poor planning, the report said money had been made available for temporary housing, but almost no funds had been allocated for rubble removal. That’s despite the fact that the quake, which destroyed 105,000 homes and damaged 208,000, left 20 million cubic meters of rubble.

Without debris removal, housing construction cannot begin in earnest and Oxfam said the volume of quake rubble in Haiti could fill enough dump trucks, parked bumper to bumper, to reach more than halfway around the globe.

“Major stakeholders, including Bill Clinton, should urgently review the workings of the IHRC and speed up delivery of its mandate,” the Oxfam report said.

United Nations and Haitian government officials have called repeatedly for patience with reconstruction, and Oxfam said countless lives had been saved thanks to humanitarian efforts to provide water, sanitation, shelter, food and other vital assistance to millions of people affected by the earthquake.

In the short term, however, Oxfam said it was difficult to be optimistic about progress in the shattered nation.

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Posted by on January 9, 2011 in Haiti


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AMAZING! – BIG Help for Haiti

If you have read my previous pieces on Haiti, you may have noted the reason that the destruction was so severe. The concrete and concrete block utilized for most building in Haiti was of severely deficient quality.  Didn’t really need Ga Tech Scientists to tell me, or anyone else familiar with building materials what our eyes and hands were telling us. You pick up a piece of the rubble and you can immediately feel the mix is all wrong.

The biggest issue relative to reconstruction is …Where do you put all the rubble?

While it has been largely moved out of the streets and thoroghfares (often burying the sidewalks or 1/2 the road), it sits in huge piles everywhere you look in the Port au Prince region.

No one has had a real solution … Until now.

But this development by Ga Tech is huge!

Recycling Haiti’s Earthquake Rubble Into Safe, Strong Concrete

Georgia Tech professor Reginald DesRoches

Nearly one year after a severe earthquake devastated Haiti, most of the damaged areas are still in ruins. But today, engineering and concrete experts at the Georgia Institute of Technology published a method of recycling Haiti’s estimated 20 million cubic yards of broken concrete and other rubble into strong new construction material. Their solution is published in the journal “Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society.”

Born in Haiti, earthquake engineering specialist Reginald DesRoches is now associate chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Georgia Tech. Since the January 12, 2010 earthquake, he has traveled several times to the capital Port-au-Prince to gather samples of typical concrete rubble and sand types used as fine aggregates in making concrete.

“The commodious piles of concrete rubble and construction debris form huge impediments to reconstruction and are often contaminated,” says DesRoches. “There are political and economic dilemmas as well, but we have found we can turn one of the dilemmas – the rubble – into a solution via some fairly simple methods of recycling the rubble and debris into new concrete.”

In Port-au-Prince, DesRoches and Georgia Tech researcher Joshua Gresham encountered no mixing trucks and found that local laborers all mixed their concrete by hand in small batches. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 6, 2011 in Haiti


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Haiti – “A Real Motha For Ya!”

Don’t know if Mr Nicholas D. Kristof over at the NY Times will ever read this – but here goes…

Haiti, Nearly a Year Later

Ultimately what Haiti most needs isn’t so much aid, but trade. Aid accounts for half of Haiti’s economy, and remittances for another quarter — and that’s a path to nowhere.

The United States has approved trade preferences that have already created 6,000 jobs in the garment sector in Haiti, and several big South Korean companies are now planning to open their own factories, creating perhaps another 130,000 jobs.

“Sweatshops,” Americans may be thinking. “Jobs,” Haitians are thinking, and nothing would be more transformative for the country.

Let’s send in doctors to save people from cholera. Let’s send in aid workers to build sustainable sanitation and water systems to help people help themselves. Let’s help educate Haitian children and improve the port so that it can become an exporter. But, above all, let’s send in business investors to create jobs.

Mr. Kristof  – I have been working on various projects in, and for Haiti now for 10 months. I have been there a number of times to meet and work with Haitian officials. By and large I have had the same experience with the Haitian people as one of your commenters, CK (#46), who said:

These are an entrepreneurial, industrious people. However, I can tell you that individuals can’t clear the rubble in any reasonable time frame. I spent 4 hours with 200 people trying to clear out the rubble in one large, collapsed building. We were in lines of 4 passing down the bricks and stones. We didn’t finish. An excavator and dump truck could have done the job in 30 minutes. No one was being paid for that work, and given the workload of day-to-day survival, I think that most people can understand that clearing by hand for nothing that brings clean water and food to families isn’t particularly viable. Though plenty of people are trying…

To be honest – seeing the Haitian people’s perspicacity on my first trip there reduced me to tears.

Your idea to “send in investors” is a good idea…

Except for one little thing.

To create any sort of modern business in Haiti (or anywhere else in the world today) you need functional infrastructure. I mean in terms of the United States and other first world countries it isn’t asking for much to have reliable electricity, clean water, high speed communications, passable roads, specialized facilities, and a large cadre of educated people.

Haiti has none of those in adequate supply. Which means few investors.

You are right that simply sending in doctors, food, and aid isn’t going to ultimately result in creating a better country…

But it keeps people alive until those of us working on building the infrastructure can get the core stuff done from which some sort of economy can be leveraged. And no, Mr. Kristof – you don’t build a septic plant handling 2.5 million people in two months… Or even 12 months. Or power plants, or an electric grid, or an internet backbone, or marine ports, or airports. Some of these projects are on the scale of years.

You don’t train 5 million illiterate people to be Rocket Scientists in 6 months.

Ain’t that a “Real Motha For Ya!

It’s going to take 5-10 years… Maybe more.

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Posted by on December 2, 2010 in Haiti


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Wyclef For President of Haiti?

Gary Pierre-Pierre, editor of Haitian Times gives the cogent assessment of Haiti I’ve seen in the press. As I’ve said before about 90% of what you see in the media about Haiti is either disinformation, bad information, or just plain wrong.

What Haiti needs is a leader at the level of a Baptiste, or in American terms a Lincoln. I don’t know of anyone who has ever spotted one of those before they accomplished what they accomplished – often things that are difficult to impossible.

Rebuilding Haiti is more than just building new houses for the dispossessed – it has to involve a complete makeover of the nation, it’s identity, and it’s norms. That is a huge job, which will take a decade or more.

Wyclef Jean

President Wyclef? Haiti would be hell for former Fugee

In its hit song “Haiti”, the Konpa group System Band rhapsodizes about the hard luck country, bemoaning its troubled history, particularly in the last 25 years.

“Nou eseye ou ak dokte, nou eseye ou ak milite, nou eseye ou ak pwofese, nou mem eseye ou ak pe, a la mise,” bellows Isnard Douby, the band’s lead singer with his trademark nasal baritone delivery. “We tried a doctor, we tried the military, we tried a professor, e even tried a priest.”

Now we may have to add singer to System Band’s list of failed leaders from various professions, if Wyclef Jean, the Haitian former front man of the hip-hop group the Fugees succeeds in his bid to become president of Haiti. Last week, Jean held a meeting in New York with many Haitian community leaders to strategize and day’s later media reports say that he will seek the presidency in November.

If Wyclef thought that growing up poor in Newark may have been difficult, he will find out that hardscrabble past is more like living in the hills of South Orange when trying to tackle Port-au-Prince’s intractable problems. It will be a major coup if he manages to get on the ballot, get elected and govern successfully. He would be the first to achieve that feat in the country’s 206 year history as a republic.

The rumors of his intended run surely has created a buzz in the Haitian American community, with several people saying that the presidential bug that ails many Haitians has not eluded the hip-hop star who rose to international stardom in the mid-1990s.

Wyclef is respected by almost every Haitian because he has embraced his Haitian roots unlike many other famous sons and daughters of the troubled Caribbean nation. Before Wyclef, many stars with Haitian parents would never publicly admit their ancestry. You might hear rumors that this person and that person is Haitian, but it was never acknowledged. Wyclef made being Haitian cool again after we fell out of favor as the exotic black Frenchmen of the late 1960s and 70s. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 27, 2010 in News


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Haiti Leadership Issue Stymies Recovery Effort

Haiti President Preval

The issue here is that unless Prval alllows free, open, and honest elections – none of the major donors is willing to go forward with plans to reconstruct the country.

Preval rejects US advice on presidential election

Haiti’s president on Wednesday rejected U.S. Senate recommendations on holding an election for his successor, brushing off criticism that the current process will leave the shattered country without a credible leader.

A report issued this month by Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “strongly encourages” Haiti to let its international partners help restructure the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council, which has been accused of corruption.

The report also recommends ensuring the participation of the key opposition party of ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, which was blocked from participating in 2009 legislative contests because of a dispute over rival candidate lists.

On Tuesday, President Rene Preval fulfilled one recommendation of the report by issuing a signed decree setting election day for Nov. 28.

But speaking at a news conference in an open-air gazebo alongside the broken remains of the national palace a day later, Preval told reporters he had no intention of complying with the rest, including changing the election body, known as the CEP. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 1, 2010 in News


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Digital Image Collection HBCU History

African American History Digital Library Launches

The HBCU Library Alliance

The HBCU Library Alliance

A two-year project to assemble a digital online collection that will capture the rich cultural history and educational legacy of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) was recently launched to promotes access to previously unknown artifacts that have helped to preserve the cultural heritage of these institutions that were founded in the midst of struggle with a special mission to education former slaves and free Blacks.

This unique collection of more than 7,000 images exemplifies the HBCUs as cultural, social and political institutions that have contributed to the historic legacy in the education of Black Americans from the early 1800s until today. The project aims to foster research and teaching opportunities for scholars and professors in the fields of African American Studies, the American South, American Democracy, cultural pluralism and other related academic disciplines.

The project is the first collaborative effort of the HBCU Library Alliance, which includes 89 four-year and 14 two-year institutions in 22 states. More than a dozen members have contributed to the collection so far, including Grambling State University and Southern University A&M College in Louisiana, Bennett College and St. Augustine’s College in North Carolina, as well as Paine College and Atlanta University Center in Georgia.

The collection, which features photographs, university correspondence, manuscripts, images of campus buildings, alumni letters, memorabilia and programs from campus events, can be viewed by Participating Institutions or searched by all collections. Many of the works are unique and priceless, often in brittle condition that will eventually be lost if not preserved…

Hat Tip to NewsOne for reporting this. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on August 13, 2009 in Black History


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