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January 16, 2001

Exhibit honors black contributions

By Deb Hammacher

A Dream Deferred: African Americans at Emory and Oxford Colleges, 1836–1968,” on display beginning Jan. 18 in Oxford’s O’Kelley Memorial Library, was developed by students in Oxford’s

“Cultures of the African Diaspora” course. The exhibit explores the diverse contributions of African Americans to both campuses, from the founding of Emory College in 1836 to the desegregation of Emory-at-Oxford in 1968.

The exhibit combines Oxford student scholarship with objects loaned from white and African American families in the Oxford community, including valuable quilts and family photographs. A centerpiece of the exhibit is the desk of Methodist Bishop James Osgood Andrew (1794–1871), an early champion of civil rights who paradoxically was a slave owner. Andrew was the first president of the Emory College Board of Trustees, and his ownership of the slave Kitty led to the 1845 split of the Methodist Church.

Themes explored in the exhibition include slavery in antebellum Oxford, memories of labor, faith and community, family history, and the campus impact of segregation and the civil rights movement. The exhibition is part of the Year of Reconciliation.

“Reconciliation, in many ways, needs to begin at home,” said Oxford anthropology professor Mark Auslander, who teaches the course. “On Emory’s ‘mother campus,’ we are keenly aware of the long historical debt Emory owes to Oxford’s African American community.

“Generations of African American employees, during the eras of slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow, labored for the school knowing that neither they nor their children could attend Emory or Oxford as students,” Auslander said. “So we hope this exhibition contributes in some small measure to the long-delayed process of acknowledging early African American historical contributions to this institution.”

Speakers at the Jan. 18 opening include University Secretary and historian Gary Hauk; Rev. Michael Lee of Mt. Zion Baptist Church; Mark Sanders, director of African American studies at Emory; Rev. Bridgette Young, associate chaplain at Emory; J.P. Godfrey, Oxford City Council member and grandson of Israel Godfrey, the African American mason who built Oxford’s Day Chapel; and Bond Fleming, former dean of Oxford College who presided during the school’s desegregation in 1968. Choirs from Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Rust United Memorial Church will perform.

The exhibition and its opening are free and open to the public. Library hours are 2 p.m.-2 a.m. on Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information, call 770-784-4664.


Back to Emory Report Jan. 16, 2001