In partnership with Art Galleries at Black Studies (AGBS), the BDA is pleased to present Liberating Black Art on view at the Neill-Cochran House Museum. This show presents artworks from the Black Diaspora Archive in conversation with two local, private collections. Collectively, these works highlight the distinct yet cohesive, approach of artists in using creativity as an antidote to systemic erasure and misrepresentation and as a means of celebrating the cultural legacy of people of African descent.
Leading up to Juneteenth 2023, the BDA hosted Connected Roots: Independent Black Communities in the Americas. The full symposium recording is available on YouTube and additional materials can be found in the symposium archive in Texas ScholarWorks.
The Black Diaspora Archive is proud to host one of the three installations of the exhibition, Black Classicists in Texas. This free, public exhibition tells the story of early educators of color in Central Texas who were passionate about studying antiquity. More information can be found on the exhibition website: https://bcatx.org.
Jeremy Thompson is a Diversity Resident Librarian at the University of Texas Libraries.
The John S. and Drucie R. Chase Building Archive is stewarded by the Black Diaspora Archive and can be accessed through a variety of avenues. The oral histories and photographs can be accessed online via the University of Texas Libraries Collections portal, here. The analog artifacts of the collection have been described in the collection’s TARO finding aid and can be requested in the Benson Latin American Collection’s rare books and manuscripts reading room. For more in-depth history about the Chase Building, visit CCE’s showcase on it and their series of videos centered around the building and its surrounding communities. Collections like the Chase Building Archive provide us the opportunity to learn how Black communities and spaces come about, and warn us about the diaspora that looms with their absence.
For more on the history of the John S. and Drucie R. Chase House and the archive, read Jeremy’s full article here.
A historical archive project that traces the routes of Texas’ domestic slave trade has received a grant of $119,326 over two years to expand its digital presence. The Texas Domestic Slave Trade (TXDST) project was founded by Daina Ramey Berry, Chair of UT Austin’s Department of History, and Rachel E. Winston, Black Diaspora Archivist at UT Libraries. The TXDST project manager is Sheena Moore, a senior administrative associate in the Department of History. The grant is funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which is a collaboration between the Mellon Foundation and the National Archives that aims to expand cultural diversity in American history.
Unearthing the Histories of Black Women in Higher Education
One of the most intriguing bits of history I’ve encountered during this project is the relationships between Black and white fraternities. The first Black Greek-letter organization on campus was none other than the Delta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. On May 16, 1959, Delta Xi charter members Alnita F. Rettig, Jerry Ann Cannon, Barbara Caruthers, Evelyn Deason, Donna Licia Guess, Mamie Flora Hans, Miriam Jean Jones, Bettye Joanne McAdams, Carolyn Nan Mims, Doris Price, Mary Simpson, Walta Marie Smith, Janice Strickland, Gloria D. Truscott, and Mabel Joyce Wilson officially integrated Greek organizations at the University of Texas.