Monday, March 5, 2012

Trinity University has acquired the papers of San Antonio civil rights activists the Rev. Claude William Black Jr.

SAN ANTONIO - Trinity University has acquired the papers of San Antonio civil rights activists the Rev. Claude William Black Jr. and his wife, ZerNona Stewart Black.

The collection includes a breadth of topics, including local and national civil rights and social and civic issues from the mid-1800s to 2009, when Black died. After preliminary work to process and prepare the materials for access, the collection will be housed in the Coates Library, Special Collections and Archives.

The collection was donated to Trinity by the Black's grandson, Taj Matthews, executive director of the Claude & ZerNona Black Developmental Leadership Foundation.

"The late Rev. Claude and ZerNona Black have left an immeasurable legacy of service to our nation. As Christian leaders, civil rights leaders, political leaders, and humanitarians, they worked for over 60 years to improve the lives of others," Matthews said. "I am extremely excited about the partnership with Trinity University to bring their life work to a broader audience."

The collection was acquired through the efforts of numerous individuals, including Trinity President Dennis A. Ahlburg; Trinity University Librarian Diane Graves; Amy Roberson, special collections and archives librarian at Trinity; and Carey H. Latimore IV, associate professor and co-chair of history and co-director of the African American Studies program at Trinity.

Rev. Claude William Black Jr. "Trinity's acquisition of this collection is a sign of our commitment not only to scholars and students but the wider community to which we belong," Ahlburg said, adding, "Reverend Black, I am told, held our institution in high regard. He was particularly fond of our Urban Studies program. Throughout his life he was a strong advocate of the value of teaching, scholarship, and engagement with the community. These are values to which our institution is committed. We expect that this collection will help us further develop connections between Trinity and our extended community."
Latimore also is an associate minister at Mount Zion First Baptist Church, where Black served as pastor for 49 years. Latimore will be the first researcher to examine the collection. "I knew ZerNona and I knew Claude Black, and I served on the pulpit with Reverend Black," Latimore said. "So I know him not only as a civil rights activist, but also as a Baptist preacher and an amazing human being." As a historian, Latimore said he is excited to review a collection that will offer a window into the life and legacy of two African American leaders in San Antonio, and he added, "This collection will make a valuable contribution to our understanding of race relations in San Antonio and beyond."

The collection also contains handwritten notes and recorded audio sound cassettes that document Black's many sermons, memorial services, and explorations of religious doctrine. Scrapbooks include photographs, pamphlets, political ephemera, and newspaper clippings of Black's campaigns and election as a San Antonio city councilman in 1973, his appointment in 1974 as the city's first African American mayor pro tem, and his participation in city events. Notebooks, photographs and memorabilia reveal the history of the African American community in San Antonio and surrounding areas. The civic activism of both Reverend Black and ZerNona in areas such as elder care and the well-being of the community is present throughout the collection.

Text provided by Donna Morales Guerra, project archivist assigned to the Claude and ZerNona Black Papers at Coates Library, Special Collections and Archives. She previously was the city archivist for the San Antonio Municipal Archives & Records and the senior curatorial assistant at the Archive of World Music, Loeb Music Library, Harvard University.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: The Office of University Communications (210) 999-8406

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