HBCULA News

The Smithsonian unites with Tuskegee University to preserve Civil Rights icon’s legacy

Tuskegee University — By honoring the importance of our past, Tuskegee University has become part of one of the most anticipated African-American museum projects in U.S. history. The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture will collaborate with the Tuskegee University Archives to preserve and share significant parts of the nation’s Civil Rights Era with the world.

According to its website: “The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established in 2003 by an Act of Congress, making it the 19th Smithsonian Institution museum. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history, and culture.” The museum is scheduled to open September 24. The Tuskegee University Archives has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the museum that will support several vital projects, including digitization of materials, lectures and education workshops.

For the first phase of the MOU, the museum has given $25,000 to the university to process and preserve the legacy of Tuskegee alumna and activist Amelia Boynton Robinson. Best known as the brutally beaten woman in the iconic photo of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march, Robinson donated her personal memorabilia collection to the archives before her death in 2015. The collection consists of approximately 3,000 items including several individual pictures and photo albums. Additionally, the donation includes artwork, awards, audio and video tapes, books, correspondence and documents and photos that poignantly highlight Robinson’s later activities as a civil and human rights advocate and provide insight into a complicated period in America’s history.

“This working agreement with the Smithsonian will aid in promoting Tuskegee University’s historical legacy to people throughout the nation and world,” said Dana Chandler, university archivist.

More to come
This partnership’s projects will be financed under the museum’s Office of Community and Constituent Services. Its mission is to develop the museum’s constituent and peer organization services and programs and collaborate with existing networks that give the museum visibility outside of Washington, D.C. The MOU with the university will help the general public and scholars, along with other museums and archives, access the Robinson collection. The archives are a division of the Tuskegee Library Services and the agreement will bolster the services’ outreach efforts to provide helpful materials to the public and academic community.
“Library Services is excited about this opportunity to expand our reach,” said Juanita Roberts, director of Tuskegee Library Services.
Other projects incorporated in the MOU: 
  • Digitization of materials in the entire Tuskegee University Archives pertinent to the Civil Rights Movement and placement on a common website available to researchers worldwide. This “Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research” site will provide researchers an opportunity to study these materials to conduct research, create dialogues, and publish books and articles that will provide new insight into the Civil Rights Movement.
  • An on-site workshop in Fall 2016 to introduce Tuskegee University’s researchers and academic staff to the Civil Rights material in the Tuskegee University Archives.
  • A Civil Rights symposium at Tuskegee University with prominent Civil Rights historians. The symposium will be held in early April 2018, in commemoration of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Article shared from Tuskegee University

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