Librarian Blanche Sanders has spent her career at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi—a longevity that’s not unusual at Alcorn, which inspires such loyalty it holds the Guinness World Record for most siblings (13) to attend an HBCU. In this episode, learn about the oral history project “If Walls Could Talk,” documenting Alcorn student life–and protests–in the 1960s, and get a glimpse into the dedicated tradition of outreach that’s made Alcorn indispensable to the local community, from nursery school to nursing home.

Link to transcript

Sources and References (in order of appearance)

Special thanks to Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons and Bruce Hartford for their research into the Alcorn Student protests, and for providing the following documentation:

The Student Voice, May 5, 1964: “Nashville Erupts as Protests Begin” (p. 1); “Over 800 Alcorn A&M Students Suspended After Demonstration (p. 3)

NOW! The Voice of Freedom, May 4, 1964: “Alcorn Followup” (p. 1)  

Further Listening 

CBC “Someone Knows Something” Series 3: Dee & Moore

Behind the Mic

Sharon Burney

Sharon M. Burney

Show Host

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.

Blanche Sanders


Dr. Blanche Sanders, dean of university libraries, provides leadership in library services at Alcorn State University and its branch campuses. Blanche brings over 22 years of experience and professional training in library services and administration in which she served as circulation assistant and coordinator, circulation librarian, archivist (1996-1999), and assistant professor (2000 to present). She holds a BS in Business Administration and an MA in Elementary Education and Guidance Education, both from Alcorn State University; MLIS from the University of Southern Mississippi; and Ph.D. from Mississippi State University.

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