The story of the first college open to African Americans in West Virginia will now be told with the new book An American Phoenix: A History of Storer College from Slavery to Desegregation, 1865–1955, Commemorative Edition by Dawne Raines Burke and published by the West Virginia University Press.
James A. Tolbert Sr., president of the West Virginia NAACP, proclaims that American Phoenix “Uncovers the significant role which the students of Storer College, its faculty, the Board of Trustees, and its alumni played in early education and the American civil rights movement. We all owe a great debt to Dawne Raines Burke for exploring and seeking out the story of this great institution and its impact on this country.”
In the first book-length study of Storer College, Dawne Raines Burke tells the story of the historically black institution from its Reconstruction origins to its demise in 1955. Established by Northern Baptists in the abolitionist flashpoint of Harpers Ferry, Storer was the first college open to African Americans in West Virginia, and it played a central role in regional and national history. In addition to educating generations of students of all races, genders, and creeds, Storer served as the second meeting place (and the first on U.S. soil) for the Niagara Movement, a precursor to the NAACP.
An American Phoenix provides a comprehensive and extensively illustrated history of this historically black college, bringing to life not just the institution but many of the individuals who taught or were educated there. It fills a significant gap in our knowledge of African American history and the struggle for rights in West Virginia and the wider world.
Dawne Raines Burke is an assistant professor of education at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Burke began her investigation into the history of Storer College as part of her doctoral research at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Schedule of events:
To celebrate the history of Storer College, a reception will be held at the WVU Visitors Center in Morgantown on Thursday, June 18, at 6 p.m. This event will announce the publication of American Phoenix, the debut of a documentary about Storer College, and the opening of a photography exhibit featuring images from throughout its history.
The inaugural screening of the Storer College documentary will take place on Friday, June 19, at 9:30 a.m. in the James and Ann Milano Reading Room at the WVU Downtown Library. Following this screening, an opening ceremony for the photography exhibit will take place at the James Hornor Davis Family Galleries at the library. At noon, a West Virginia Day birthday cake will conclude this celebration.
All events are open to the public.
An American Phoenix: A History of Storer College from Slavery to Desegregation, 1865–1955, Commemorative Edition by Dawne Raines Burke
June 2015/176pp/150 images/HCJ 978-1-940425-77-1/$29.99
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