Black Lives Always Mattered!: Hidden African American Philadelphians in the Twentieth Century

Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University



Billie Holiday meets a sergeant and other soldiers at the South Broad Street USO, 1943. Photo by John W. Mosley.


Eric Battle, Malcolm 10-Vitruvian, 2017, pencil/ink/digital color art work. Photo courtesy of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University.


Civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Esquire Cecil B. Moore, and radio personality Georgie Woods, 1965. Photo by John W. Mosley.


Charles L. Blockson, curator emeritus with a student from The Royalty Project, May 19, 2018. Photo by Rhonesha Blache.

Temple University’s Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection will develop a new graphic novel that depicts underrepresented stories of talent, courage, and achievement from 20th-century African American Philadelphians and encourages conversations about race in America. Combining complex, multi-dimensional narratives with vivid images of black Philadelphians, Black Lives Always Mattered! will draw source material from the Blockson Collection, one of the nation’s leading research facilities for the study of African and African American history and culture. Award-winning author Dr. Sheena C. Howard will serve as lead writer of the novel, and Eric Battle will serve as the project’s curator and art director. Battle, who has created work with Marvel Comics, DC Entertainment, and author George R.R. Martin, will assemble a group of some of Philadelphia’s most dynamic comic book artists to produce creative illustrations. The book will begin with historian and sociologist W.E.B. DuBois’ groundbreaking study The Philadelphia Negro (1899), which gave birth to the field of urban sociology, and will end in 1968 with the desegregation of Girard College—an effort spearheaded by attorney and civil rights activist Cecil B. Moore. Thirteen other African Americans who made significant contributions to the city, region, and beyond will be featured in the book, as selected by focus groups of Philadelphia teachers and high school and college students.

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.