Arkansas University Libraries Digitize Southland College papers

In 1864, during the Civil War, Quakers traveled to Phillips County, Arkansas to build an orphanage for slave children. For the next fifty years, bolstered by donations of black soldiers and the support of former slaves, the orphanage transformed and bloomed. Southland College -- the first institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River for African Americans -- would graduate hundreds of African Americans with teaching degrees.

Its flourishing testified to the "overwhelming longing for literacy felt by former slaves," writes the University of Arkansas Libraries site, and "addressed the acute need for educated teachers and professionals around the country."  

Arkansas university libraries have now digitized a collection of Southland College papers. "It's been a privilege to collaborate in the retelling of Southland College's remarkable history in this format," said the curator Catherine Wallack."The story is both hopeful and heartbreaking, and it belies so many stereotypes about the Arkansas Delta." 

For those interested, I would recommend the historian Thomas C. Kennedy's Southland College, A History of Southland College: The Society of Friends and Black Education (University of Arkansas Press, 2009), an absorbing account of the school's origins, growth, and closing. 

Father and Son Graduate Together From Phillips Community College

We need tell more stories like this. I excerpt below Marla Riddell's story from the Helena Daily World.  

In 2008, Emanuel Reed, Sr. was working with his sons on their homework, when his youngest son asked, "Dad, why didn’t you go to college?"

”I made up my mind that night that I was going, come fall of 2009,” said Reed, Sr. 

Reed, Jr., was 13 when his dad started college. His father could only go part-time, usually enrolling in a class or two at night each semester, due to his day-time employment.

”I started seven years before Emanuel, Jr., graduated high school, and although I wanted to get finished early, seeing my son join in, catch up with me, and walk across the stage together, made it worth the wait,” Reed, Sr., said. Father and son graduated together in May 2017.