Black Utopias: Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Libraries

In Art Show On A Vine, Arts & Culture, Uncategorized on February 16, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) – SU Bird Library, 6th floor.

SCRC Director Lucy Mulroney and Joan Bryant curated the exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the best-selling narrative of one of the most prominent men of the Civil Rights era. The personal transformations that form the narrative arc of the Autobiography provide a framework for exploring how people of African descent in oppressive circumstances tried to create worlds of freedom, unity, power, equality, and beauty. Rare books and periodicals, photographs, letters, advertisements, speeches, sheet music, news clippings, poetry, novels, memoirs, political pamphlets and posters illuminate the diverse utopian visions that have shaped Black American life.

They encompass African Methodists seeking religious self-determination; sharecroppers’ quests for justice through a communist-sponsored union; dreams of a future without races; enterprises to make Blackness beautiful;  assertions of political power; and calls for Black revolution.  This is just a sampling of the varied endeavors in the exhibition, which displays little-known individuals and such prominent figures as W.E.B. Du Bois, James Ford, Howard Thurman, Madam C. J. Walker, Samuel Ringgold Ward, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mark your calendars for the Spring Black Utopias Research Conference on April 4 & 6, when students will present their research on SCRC materials related to exhibit themes. If you are interested in arranging a small group tour, send a request to

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