Former Temple Instructor to Receive Philadelphia Award

Charles Blockson in the Blockson Collection on April 18, 2017.


Dr. Charles Blockson is a man of many titles, a historian, an educator, and an author. Next month the former Temple instructor will be honored with one of the highest awards a Philadelphian can receive.

“I’m honored to be receiving on May 25th the prestigious Philadelphia Award, which was a surprise.” said Dr. Blockson.

Dr. Blockson is most well-known at Temple University for the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection in Sullivan Hall, which he donated around 30 years ago.

The Blockson Collection houses over half a million artifacts including books, manuscripts, sheet music, portraits, statues, and more ephemera that document the global history and culture of African descent. The collection is one of the most prestigious collections of African-American history in the country.

Dr. Blockson says he began his quest for African-American history at the age of 9 years old, when a teacher told him that “African-Americans have no history.”

Since then he has spent his life debunking that statement by visiting various corners of the world in search of artifacts that document the African-American history his teacher told him did not exist. . “My life has taken me from Salvation Armies, to bookstores and all over.” Paris, Scandinavia, and Africa are just a few of those places he’s been.

“We are blessed to have associated with Temple University one of the greatest historians of all times. And we are also blessed to have here at Temple University the Blockson Collection,” President Englert said.

“Mr. Blockson has been an inspiration not only to myself but many others especially African-American writers. His award is well-overdue and well deserved,” said Dr. Diane Turner, curator of the Blockson Collection.

For young minds, Dr. Blockson offered this piece of advice–“Whatever you believe in from an early age which you believe is right for humanity…go for it.”

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