Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) occupy a remarkable space in American education, showcasing both the richness of Black intellectual tradition and the tenacity required to thrive in the face of racial hostility and chronic under-resourcing. In the third season of Material Memory, host Sharon M. Burney takes us on a tour of the treasures housed in their libraries’ collections and gives us a glimpse into the vital role these institutions play in their communities. In this first episode of the season, we introduce two women instrumental to the HBCU Library Alliance: executive director Sandra Phoenix, and recent board chair Monika Rhue.
- HBCU Library Alliance
- Loretta Parham
- Janice Franklin
- HBCU Library Alliance Library Conservation/Preservation Internships
- Mut Griot Production (Monika Rhue’s griot site)
- Reclaim 37
- Reclaim 37 Exhibit
- RCLM37 II
- JCSU Courage Exhibit Brochure and study guide
- HBCU Library Alliance Leadership Institute
Behind the Mic
Sharon M. Burney
Sharon M. Burney is a program officer with CLIR, where she supports the Recordings at Risk and Digitizing Hidden Special Collections grant programs. Sharon specializes in academic, cultural heritage, community, and institutional support systems, navigating administrative policy adherence with an interpersonal connection that promotes community building. Prior to joining CLIR, she spent 15 years providing program support to the University of Florida African American Studies Program, helping it to become a premiere degree program. She is also a widely respected poet and community organizer. She loves to embrace the infinite historical contributions of the African diaspora, and blends them with contemporary civil rights, activism, and social issues in her poetry. Her passion for public service, education, and humanity is exemplified in every aspect of her life, and when in rest mode you can find her enjoying the simple moments with her daughters and pets.
Sandra Phoenix has more than 30 years’ experience at nonprofit organizations and extensive project management experience. Responsible for the overall operations of the HBCU Library Alliance, she provides leadership in developing strategic and financial planning; managing an organizational budget with the board of directors; managing, publicizing, and promoting grant-related activities of the organization; and promoting active participation on grant projects by member institutions.
Monika Rhue is project manager at UCLA’s Bunche Center, where she is working on Archiving in the Age of Mass Incarceration, a Million Dollar Hoods Project. At the time she was interviewed for this podcast, she was director of library services at Johnson C. Smith University and also served as chair of the HBCU Library Alliance board. She is an author and storyteller whose work includes Save the Music: The History of Biddleville Quintet, Johnson C. Smith University’s archives first digital project to transfer instantaneous discs into a digital format; and the RCLM 37 exhibit and oral history project to capture and preserve the rich heritage of the Northwest Corridor neighborhoods. She also assisted in the curation of Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited, based on the award-winning book Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists.