February 11, 2011

Presentation to focus on SIUC's history of diversity

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A brown bag luncheon presentation Tuesday, Feb. 15, at Morris Library will celebrate the history of diversity at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Leah Agne, university archivist with Morris Library Special Collections, will present “The History of Black Students at SIUC” from noon to 1 p.m. in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors. Everyone is welcome to come discover how black Americans have been an integral part of the University since its inception.

Established in 1869 as Southern Illinois Normal University, the University accepted its first black students, two females, when instruction began in 1874. The first black student known by name was Alexander Lane of Tamaroa. He came to the preparatory department at SIU in 1876 and later went on to become principal of the black Carbondale primary school, a graduate of Rush Medical College and eventually a member of the Illinois General Assembly.

Agne’s presentation will feature Lane and other prominent black students at the University, people who went on to achieve greatness in many arenas. She’ll also discuss how early civil rights legislation and local politics affected education in the state of Illinois after the Civil War and provide a glimpse of student life at the Carbondale campus from 1874 until about the time World War II ended.

Those attending will also want to peruse the exhibit “‘Be proud, my Race, in mind and soul’ (Paul Laurence Dunbar) -- Laying the Foundation: African-Americans at SIU, 1874-1945, ongoing now in the library’s Hall of Presidents and Chancellors. The display and brown bag presentation are part of the University’s Black History Month celebration.

Those attending are welcome to bring their lunches to eat as Agne speaks. Special Collections will also provide cookies.