The Center for Black Literature (CBL), in partnership with the Medgar Evers College Library Archives team, has created The History and Legacy of the Center for Black Literature: An Online Exhibition. Explore this gem of history that showcases CBL’s inception, growth, and legacy through its newly digitized archives.

In 2020, The City University of New York received an historic gift of $10 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to drive change across CUNY’s 25 campuses; to develop and expand a range of initiatives related to the COVID-19 pandemic that was raging at that time; and to intensify efforts to advance social and racial justice. One of these important efforts was a $3 million initiative to reimagine and further develop CUNY programs in Black, Race and Ethnic Studies (BRESI). The Center for Black Literature received a BRESI grant to digitize its archives.

The digitized archives will ensure that the conferences, seminars, workshops, webinars, readings, interviews, videotapes, and publications of the Center’s programs are preserved for the community in which the Center resides, for the CUNY-wide community, and for the broader national and international community. These archives will also add to the collection on African American literature in the Charles Evans Inniss Memorial Library and will provide an expanded narrative on the literature of writers and scholars throughout the African diaspora.

Thanks to the Center for Black Literature (CBL) team, Dr. Brenda M. Greene, Clarence Reynolds, Maeshay Lewis, and Amber Magruder, for culling and preserving the materials that were essential for the project; the Medgar Evers College Library Archives team, Yelena Novitskaya and Tomasz Gubernat, for collaborating with the Center for Black Literature to display this exhibition online; and the co-curators of the exhibition, Ellie Meek Tweedy and Lea Byrd, for developing the first iteration of this archival exhibition.

And special thanks to the many wonderful photographers and videographers over the years who provided indispensable visual documentation of the Center’s history. The majority of the photos used in this presentation are credited to Marcia E. Wilson.