Scholar Charles Blockson receives 2016 Philadelphia Award

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Charles L. Blockson, the prominent African American historian, scholar and author, has been named the winner of the 2016 Philadelphia Award, officials announced Tuesday.

He was recognized for his lifelong mission to document African American history in Philadelphia and around the nation.  The award will be presented during a May 25 ceremony at Temple University, which houses the well-known Blockson Collection.


“I am incredibly humbled by this recognition, and thank the trustees for recognizing the value of preserving the record of people of African descent,” Blockson said in a statement. “It caps a lifetime of dedication to collecting, conversing, reading, and traveling the world in pursuit of uncovering the history of our past in order to build a better future.”





Blockson’s passion for history and books began at age 9, and led to his amassing one of the world’s largest private collections related to people of African descent. His interest began, he once said, after a white elementary school teacher told him that black people had no history. His parents said otherwise, and shared lessons on prominent African American men and women.

In 1984, Blockson donated his personal collection of rare publications and artifacts to Temple University. The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection now contains more than 500,000 books, documents, and photographs.

The Philadelphia Award was founded by editor, philanthropist, and Pulitzer Prize winning-author Edward W. Bok in 1921. It recognizes a citizen who has acted and worked on behalf of the best interests of the community.





















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