The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University is one of the nation's leading research facilities for the study of the history and culture of people of African descent. The collection of over 500,000 items includes materials representing the global black experience in all formats: books, manuscripts, sheet music, pamphlets, journals, newspapers, broadsides, posters, photographs, and rare ephemera. In 2018, the organization received a Center grant to create Black Lives Always Mattered!: Hidden African American Philadelphia of the Twentieth Century, a new graphic novel that depicts underrepresented stories of talent, courage, and achievement from African American Philadelphians and encourages conversations about race in America.
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.