African-American Special Collection opens in Coleman

Samuel H. Coleman Memorial Library welcomed a new addition, the Afro-American Special Collection, Thursday, Feb. 11. This will now be a permanent showcase located in the Heritage Room.

The special collection is an extension of the African-American collection in Coleman Library.

The exhibit features  limited edition works from “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” by Martin Luther King, Jr.; “Our Grandmothers,” by Maya Angelou; “Bookmarks in the Pages of Life: A Selection of Short Stories,” by Zora Neale Hurston; and “The Gutenberg Bible: A Commentary.” The most notable is “GOAT: A tribute to Muhammad Ali,” the most expensive book in the entire library.  

Works of King, Angelou and Hurston are preserved under lock and key. To read them, readers must be supervised and are required to wear gloves. The works will soon be digitized on the FAMU Digital Resource Center located on the libraries’ web page.  

“As African-Americans, we’ve made extraordinary accomplishments, most you’ve never heard of,” Gloria Woody, the African-American Collections librarian in Coleman, said. “It’s important for students and faculty to get a chance to view these achievements and gain a sense of pride.”

Along with limited work, the exhibit houses age-old Rattler yearbooks. The collection also includes “The Cadet,” a FAMU-ROTC publication which focuses on the accomplishments of former and current FAMU students in the military; “Research Bulletin,” research, essays and creative writing from students and faculty, formerly “The Famcee,” now the “FAMU Alumni News;”; “The Quarterly Journal,” an avenue for faculty members to publish articles on research and education, and “A&M,” a university bulletin for faculty and staff.

Nelicia Griffith, a social work major from Tampa, Fla., came to the library to complete a class assignment. She was searching through the yearbooks and found her father in a 1964 edition.

“It’s essential to appreciate the African-American experience, knowing your roots, where you have come from and understanding its importance to where you are today,” Griffith said. “I want to come back and learn more.”

The limited edition collections were purchased by the Student Government Association in order to build a prestigious African-American collection at Florida A&M University.

“Students should take more initiative in finding what the library has to offer., We are an HBCU. We need to be reminded of past legacies so that we continue to progress,” Stephanie Blackwood, a criminal justice major from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., said.

Coinciding with Black History Month, Coleman Library wants to indulge students and faculty with various activities and resources so that they are educated both on the history of their culture and the university.

Once more exhibits are added, the library will establish hours for the collection. Throughout the month of February, the library will host poetry readings and movie nights.