Tuskegee University Archives recently released new recordings from the Tuskegee Civic Association records that feature prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. These speeches, addressing the Tuskegee community, fill in historical gaps to illuminate the relationships between leaders and their constituents.
The collection was digitized from reel-to-reel tape under the care of university archivist Dana Chandler and made available through funding by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Council of Independent Colleges. The recordings are freely available to listen to in Artstor’s public collections.
Artstor staff members Evan Towle and Karyn Anonia spoke with Chandler about his work.
ET: First, can you speak a little about your history with the Archives at Tuskegee?
DC: I’m in my eleventh year. I’d first visited in 1972—my parents brought us down here to see Carver’s laboratory, and I fell in love with the place then. I did not ever expect to work here. The opportunity kind of fell into my lap, and I have been able to, I think, develop the Archives into a viable place for researchers to come from the US and all around the world to work on the materials to fill in some blanks that have been evident for a long time about the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the history of Tuskegee as a whole, as well as the work of African Americans, how successful they really were during the time of Jim Crow Laws and laws of segregation.
When you think about Tuskegee, you think about George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington. You think about the Tuskegee Airmen, and maybe something called the Syphilis Study, which did not happen here on the campus. But it is much more than those things. The first Extension Agent to the US Federal Government came from Tuskegee—not just the first black agent, but the first Extension Agent came from Tuskegee University—the first African American Hospital in Alabama; the first school to offer a four-year degree in nursing in Alabama; the first African American woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics, Alice Coachman Davis, went to Tuskegee. And believe me, I could go on and on ad nauseam about the stuff that’s here.