Arkansas students visit the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection
Sixteen students from the University of Arkansas - Monticello visited Temple to research the civil rights movement.
This semester several students from Arkansas had an opportunity to learn about the fight for civil rights in Philadelphia from key members of the movement.
Sixteen undergraduate students from the University of Arkansas - Monticello filled the seating area in the Charles Blockson Afro-American Collection last month to listen to first hand accounts from Bernyce Mills-DeVaughn and Karen Jordan, who both took part in the fight to desegregate Girard College.
“We started the fight for Girard as movement was taking place across the nation. We spent seven months and 17 days at that wall, working to desegregate Girard College, which was a school for orphan males, funded by public dollars, that only admitted white students,” said Mills-DeVaughn.
“The impact was amazing,” said Carol Strong, associate professor of political science, University of Arkansas - Monticello. “The former Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia freedom fighters were just as interested to hear about what happened in Little Rock as the Arkansas students were to hear about what transpired in Philadelphia.”
Strong learned about the Blockson after searching for educational materials about Philadelphia. When researching historical narratives about the desegregation of Philadelphia she came across the university’s Civil Rights in a Northern City: Philadelphia website.
Strong used the site’s material on the desegregation of Girard College, as told through oral histories of the Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia Freedom Fighters, to lead her class into a discussion about civil rights.
“After having the students read the actual transcripts and then debate the issues encountered within the text, I decided to contact the Temple University Library to find out more about the collections in the Blockson,” said Strong.
In addition to visiting the Blockson, the group heard a lecture coordinated by the Temple University think tank Inside Out Prison Exchange Program, which facilitates discussions between prisoners and college students.
“The Blockson is indeed a unique treasure for anyone wanting to better understand the role of race relations in the United States, one carefully and lovingly cared for by Dr. Turner and her staff,” said Strong. “Indeed, I myself was so inspired that I intend to return to Philly this summer and see what the Blockson holds for my personal research.”