Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Value of History? Priceless

There are many treasure troves of African American history and culture on the East Coast. TheMoorland Spingarn Research Center at Howard University and Harlem's Schomburg Center for Research and Culture are the most prominent ones that come to mind.

But a little known gem is located right here in Philly. It's the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, housed at Temple University.

The collection is lauded as the fifth largest assemblage of black historical materials in the nation. But in many ways, it has been taken for granted by Temple.

The Blockson Collection is the subject of my column this week. If you're ever in Philly, make it your business to check it out.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

History is dead. At least most of the people in history are dead. And the culture wants history on the serious down-low, right? So, African-American history?...Most of it seems buried. I mean, Hurricane Katrina already appears to have slipped into the permanent past, even though it is a major, ongoing event for millions.

So, thank you, Annette for attempting to point our gaze towards history. 'Big ups' to Charles L. Blockton and others for putting up and maintaining that collection.

Besides the national importance of Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Ida B. Wells and Fannie Lou Hamer, et al., nearly every major city -- especially here in the East -- has a rich, noble, heartbreaking, and triumphant history of Africans in America that stands on its own. Yet this America simply doesn't exist without all that African American history.

I feel that the history of African Americans becomes ever more crucial as the nation's demographics rapidly change into a multiracial mix with huge numbers of recent arrivals.

As the significance of a black and white bipolar racial dynamic eases into the past, other groups will inevitably question and challenge the status of African Americans -- as has already begun, small scale.

Are we truly a decent and worthy people? That is what's being asked. All we have is our collective ranking (always under assault), our status as individuals (inevitably in flux), and our history -- only ours to maintain.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous raceman said...

History is dead. At least most of the people in history are dead. And the culture wants history on the serious down-low, right? So, African-American history?...Most of it seems buried. I mean, Hurricane Katrina already appears to have slipped into the permanent past, even though it is a major, ongoing event for millions.

So, thank you, Annette for attempting to point our gaze towards history. 'Big ups' to Charles L. Blockton and others for putting up and maintaining that collection.

Besides the national importance of Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Ida B. Wells and Fannie Lou Hamer, et al., nearly every major city -- especially here in the East -- has a rich, noble, heartbreaking, and triumphant history of Africans in America that stands on its own. Yet this America simply doesn't exist without all that African American history.

I feel that the history of African Americans becomes ever more crucial as the nation's demographics rapidly change into a multiracial mix with huge numbers of recent arrivals.

As the significance of a black and white bipolar racial dynamic eases into the past, other groups will inevitably question and challenge the status of African Americans -- as has already begun, small scale.

Are we truly a decent and worthy people? That is what's being asked. All we have is our collective ranking (always under assault), our status as individuals (inevitably in flux), and our history -- only ours to maintain.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Dolores Mohammed said...

The Charles L. Clockson Afro-American collection is priceless!
Its curator, Dr. Charles L. Blackson, nothing less than a national hero with the foresight and perseverance to catalogue our history, traditions, cultural artifacts, writings, music and patrimony with loving care. He is an extraordinary man whom I am privileged to know and admire.

We must find a beautiful and befitting library or museum to house the collection if it moves from Temple. However, I feel it should be given more space in the Sullivan Building where it now resides.
I also regret that the School District of Philadelphia never saw fit to make this collection a national and international heritage site which all school children should visit.

4:23 AM  

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