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Picture courtesy of Cayuga Museum
(Click picture to enlarge)


Harriet Tubman
"The Conductor"
By Carl A. Pierce
(click picture to enlarge)

 
 

Charles L. Blockson

Del Tech. Stanton Campus, Delaware, February 20, 2001

THE preservation of black history has become the lifework of the former Penn State University scholar and athlete, Charles L. Blockson.  The Norristown, Pennsylvania, native  has written seven books, and spent more than forty years amassing one of the nation’s largest private collections of items relating to black history and traditions.

In 1984, the noted bibliophile and author donated his collection to Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, of which he is curator, is a part of the Special Collections Department of the Temple University Libraries and is housed in Sullivan Hall. His collection now contains over 200,000 items, books, pamphlets, manuscripts, prints and drawings, sheet music, broadsides, posters and artifacts. The collection spans nearly four centuries from Leo Africanus to the present, and geographically from Africa through Europe and the Caribbean to the United States. During high school years in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Mr. Blockson starred in football and track, subsequently receiving offers of athletic scholarships from sixty colleges. He selected Penn State, and roomed with teammates Rosey Grier and Lenny Moore. He later passed up a professional career with the New York Giants to pursue his first love, black history.

In addition to serving as curator of his collection, Mr. Blockson continues to lecture, organizes black studies programs for schools and colleges, and arranges exhibitions, such as; Of Color, Humanities and Statehood: The Black Experience In Pennsylvania Over Three Centuries, 1681-1981, which toured the state. His last project, Paul Robeson in Philadelphia and Beyond: A Centennial Exhibition 1898-1998, was a project with the Free Library of Philadelphia which was exhibited April-July 1998. In 1989, he launched a historical marker project to erect 74 markers commemorating the contribution of African Americans to the City of Philadelphia.

The author of seven books, his first, Pennsylvania’s Black History, which was published in 1975, considered to be the best work available on the subject. His second, Black Genealogy, a guide for tracing black ancestry that was lauded by Newsweek upon its publication in 1977, prior to the emergence of the acclaimed Alex Haley’s Roots. In 1981, his third book, The Underground Railroad In Pennsylvania was  published. His fourth book, First Person Narratives of Escapes to Freedom In The North, was published in 1987. In 1989, his fifth book was published, A Commented Bibliography of One Hundred and One Influential Books by and About Black People Of African Descent (1556-1982). In July, 1984, his article entitled Escape From Slavery; The Underground Railroad, was published in the National Geographic magazine.  In 1991, Catalogue of  The Charles L. Blockson Afro American Collection, was published by Temple University Press.  His latest book, Damn Rare: The Memoirs Of An African American Bibliophile, was published in 1998.

Mr.  Blockson has lectured in the West Indies and South America for the United States Information Agency, and completed a tour of lectures in Denmark.  In Norristown, he was the first individual to be inducted in the school’s district’s Hall of Fame and Hall of Champions.  A bronze bust of Mr. Blockson was presented as a gift to Temple University by the celebrated sculptor, Antonio Salemme, in 1990. Mr. Blockson is the recipient of numerous awards including the Philadelphia Urban League’s Leadership Award for 1991.

Mr. Blockson holds honorary doctorate degrees from Villanova University and Lincoln University. He is listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans, 1991, and Who’s Who in the Delaware Valley, 1991. The former President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, he has served as director of the State Historical and Record Advisory Board and its Black History Advisory Board and is the former chairperson of the National Park Service Underground Railroad Advisory Committee. In 1984, he received the State College Football Alumni Award.  Having completed a three-year term on Penn State’s Alumni Council, he was the Afro American Commissioner of the Governor’s Heritage Affairs Commission; one of the founders of the Afro American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the recipient of the Penn State Alumni Fellow Award (Distinguished Alumni), and the Before Columbus Foundation Book Award.

Recently, Mr. Blockson was included in Millennium Philadelphia: The Last 100 Years, published by the staff of the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1999. Among his many projects for the new millennium, Mr. Blockson is currently working with Philadelphia Urban League to publish a new book, A Century of Greatness: 2000.   Black History Month Program, Del Tech, Stanton Campus, Delaware, February 20, 2001.

Coming Soon…The History of NPS Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act by Charles L. Blockson. From H.R. 3863 - P.L. 105-203.

Temple University
Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection
First Floor, Sullivan Hall
12th and Berks Mall
Philadelphia, PA. 19122
(215) 204-6632 

                              
  READ MORE.
KOSTMAYER - H.R. 3863


 

HISTORY & BACKGROUND 

NPS UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

NETWORK TO FREEDOM ACT 

Historical Event

July 1984
National Geographic Front Cover
The Underground Railroad
Escape to Freedom

Charles L. Blockson
 

January – 1990 
Historical Meeting
Hon. Peter H. Kostmayer & Charles L. Blockson
Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia, PA.,

January 16, 1990
Featured Article - January Meeting
‘Liberty Train, Lingering Tracks’ by Lacy McCrary
Philadelphia Inquirer
 

January 24, 1990
Introduction of the Underground Railroad
Historic Trail
Hon. Peter H. Kostmayer
 

January 28, 1990
Cong. Peter H. Kostmayer
H.R. 3863
 

May 22, 1990
Cong. Peter H. Kostmayer sponsors
Sub-Committee Meeting
National Parks & Public Lands
Washington, D.C.
 

* March 10, 1990
Harriet Tubman Day
Celebrated International
Harriet Tubman Historical Society
Wilmington, Delaware
 

June 28, 1990
Hon. Paul Simon (IL)  S. 2809
To Amend the National Trails
 

November 28, 1990 - P.L. 101- 628
Underground Railroad Special Resource Study
Underground Railroad Advisory Committee
 

October 4-5, 1992
Underground Railroad Workshop
Kansas City, Missouri
 

March 31, 1993
First Meeting Underground Railroad
Advisory Committee
Philadelphia, PA.
 

July 16, 1993
Second Meeting UGAC
Buffalo, New York
Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Ontario
 

October 20, 1993
Third Meeting UGAC, Omni Hotel
Baltimore, Maryland
 

August 17-18, 1994
Fourth Meeting UGAC – Channel Inn.
Washington, D.C.
 

June 20-21, 1995
NPS Underground Railroad Charette
Mather Training Center
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
 

August 11, 1995
Final Meeting- UGAC Meeting
Philadelphia, PA.
 

February 9, 1996 - NPS Press Release
Study Explores Options For
Preserving, Commemorating
Historic Underground Railroad 

May 15, 1997-Hon. Louis Stokes
Introduction of the Underground Railroad
Network to Freedom Act of 1997
H.R. 1635

 June 11, 1997
Hon. Carol Moseley-Braun

S. 887 (Senate)
National Underground Railroad
Network to Freedom Act 1997

 July 22, 1997
National Park & Public Lands Hearing
Washington, D.C. 

July 21, 1998
President William J. Clinton
P.L. 105-203
An Act to Establish Within the
United States National Park Service
Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act

July 26, 2000
H.R. 2919
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Act
Establishing Cincinnati Freedom Center 

October 12, 2000
*National Underground Railroad
Network to Freedom Anniversary
Philadelphia, PA.
 

 *May 22-24, 2000
Harriet Tubman Millennium Pilgrimage
Addie Richburg, Washington, D.C.
 

Underground Railroad Advisory Committee 

Charles L. Blockson
Dr. Thomas Battle
Dr. John Fleming
Dr. Ancella Bickley
Ms. Barbara Hudson
Dr. Robin Winks
Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey)
 Glenette Turner
Vivian Abdur-Rahim

 *Significant Events

 

 

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