One advantage that readers of my blog get is that I’ll often offer pre-publication peeks of the books published by my press, The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working with David Pettegrew and his team at the 100 Voices Project, which is part of the larger Digital Harrisburg and Commonwealth Monument Project in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to typeset and design a book titled One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s African American Community, 1850-1920. The book was brought together by Calobe Jackson, Jr., Katie Wingert McArdle David Pettegrew and Lenwood Sloan added a foreword.
The stories contained in the book are really quite remarkable as Harrisburg’s African American community had ties reaching from the Antebellum South to the Harlem Renaissance with local, regional, and national figures in between. Each short biological sketch complements by detailed data points associated with these individual’s lives makes for compelling reading.
I was particularly taken by the poetry of Esther Popel Shaw, who was a significant poet in the Harlem Renaissance, the professional accomplishments of Henry H. Summer’s who goes on to teach Greek and Theology at Wilberforce University, and pathbreaking career of Benjamin J. Foote, the first African American policeman in Harrisburg. There’s much more to read and discover in these stories that speak to the dynamism of the African American community in a mid-sized American city and tell stories both relevant to our current public attentiveness to Black history and more enduring considerations.
Here’s a little description of this amazing project:
In 2020, a coalition of citizens, organizers, legislators, and educators came together to commemorate the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments by establishing a new monument in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This would be a memorial dedicated to the capital city’s significant African American community and its historic struggle for the vote. The Commonwealth Monument, located on the Irvis Equality Circle on the South Lawn of Pennsylvania’s State Capitol Grounds, features a bronze pedestal inscribed with one hundred names of change agents who pursued the power of suffrage and citizenship between 1850 and 1920.
This book is a companion to this monument and tells the stories of those one hundred freedom seekers, abolitionists, activists, suffragists, moralists, policemen, masons, doctors, lawyers, musicians, poets, publishers, teachers, preachers, housekeepers, janitors, and business leaders, among many others. In their committed advocacy for freedom, equality, and justice, these inspiring men and women made unique and lasting contributions to the standing and life of African Americans—and, indeed, the political power of all Americans—within their local communities and across the country.
If you want to download a copy of the book a few weeks before it’s released, go here.