Black Classicists | Fifteen Portraits

March 1, 2018 – Fall 2018

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About the Exhibition

Black_Classicists

This historic exhibition celebrates the important role of African Americans in the field of Classics and provides a unique opportunity to reflect upon the purpose of higher education and its place in the struggle for equality and human enrichment.

The study of Greek and Latin was the curricular foundation of education for many centuries, both in the US and abroad. In the aftermath of the American Civil War, people of African descent, hungry for the “bread of knowledge,” also wanted to learn Greek and Latin. Many institutions responded to this need; nearby Howard University played a key role and from its inception offered a range of classes that enabled African American students to study ancient languages.

The African American men and women featured in this exhibition taught Greek and Latin at the college or university level and made groundbreaking achievements in education. Their academic accomplishments bolstered a new tradition of black intellectualism and resulted in greater opportunities for future generations of African Americans.

The Classicists

The classicists in order of display are Wiley Lane (1852-1885), Helen Maria Chestnut (1880-1969), William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926), John Wesley Edward Bowen (1855-1933), John Wesley Gilbert (1864-1923), Frazelia Campbell (1849-1930), William Henry Crogman (1841-1931), Reuben Shannon Lovinggood (1864-1916), Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832-1912), Lewis Baxter Moore (1866-1928), Richard Theodore Greener (1844-1922), George Morton Lightfoot (1868-1947), Daniel Barclay Williams (1861-1895), James Monroe Gregory (1849-1915), and William Lewis Bulkley (1867-1933).

Black_Classicists_Collage
Thumbnail images of the portraits courtesy of Johnson Olusegun Ige, Howard University.

Number Title Year Credit
1 Wiley Lane 1883 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
Photo courtesy of Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
2 Helen Maria Chesnutt 1902 Photo courtesy of the Smith Collge Archives
3 William Sanders Scarborough 1908 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
Photo courtesy of Rembert E. Stokes Library, Wilberforce University
4 John Wesley Edward Bowen   Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
Photo courtesy of Boston University
5 John Wesley Gilbert 1890 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University Photo courtesy Brown University
6 Frazelia Campbell 1913 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University Fanny Jackson Coppin, Reminiscences of School Life and Hints on Teaching, (Philadelphia, 1913)
7 William Henry Crogman 1910 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
Photo courtesy of Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center
8 Reuben S. Lovinggood 1910 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University Photo courtesy of Huston-Tillotson College Archives
9 Edward Wilmot Blyden 1880 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University Photo © Corbis Historical, Funded by the Humanities Center, Wayne State University
10 Lewis Baxter Moore 1890 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
11 Richard Theodore Greener 1870 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University,
Photo courtesy of the Harvard University Archives
12 George Morton Lightfoot 1925 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
Photo courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University Archives
13 Daniel Barclay Williams 1887 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
Photo courtesy of Johnston Memorial Library, Virginia State University
14 James Monroe Gregory 1875 Production funded by the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Harvard University
Photo courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University Archives
15 William Bulkley 1910 I.L. Thomas, "Methodism and the Negro," 1910.

Acknowledgements

Black Classicists was organized by Michele Valerie Ronnick, Professor of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Wayne State University. The exhibition is funded by two grants from the James Loeb Classical Library Foundation at Harvard University.

The exhibition was brought to the Center for Hellenic Studies by Caroline Stark, Assistant Professor of Classics at Howard University, thanks to a Leadership Initiative Grant from the Classical Association of the Atlantic States and through the support of the CHS.

Additional support has been provided by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Eos: Africana Receptions of Greece and Rome, and the Washington, DC Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.