Season 3

HBCU Library Alliance Tour

About Season 3

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 CLIR’s podcast, Material Memory, host Sharon M. Burney takes us on a tour of six HBCU libraries, highlighting the people and collections, and giving us a glimpse into the vital role these institutions play in their communities.

We’ll travel from the inner harbor of Baltimore, Maryland, to the “Queen City” of Charlotte, North Carolina; from the champion trees of Columbia, South Carolina, to the magnolias of Lorman, Mississippi; and from the bayous of New Orleans, Louisiana to the rolling hills of Nashville, Tennessee. We will consider the impact of HBCU library collections on society both locally and abroad. How do we tell the story of Black history from the archives? What are the roles of cultural heritage institutions in the preservation of Black culture? What are the challenges these institutions face? And where do we go from here?

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King, P. H. Polk, n.d. Tuskegee University Archives, P. H. Polk Family Collection

Our Guests

Sandra Phoenix

Sandra Phoenix

Executive Director, HBCU Library Alliance

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

Monika Rhue

Project Manager, Bunche Center, UCLA

At the time Monika Rhue was interviewed for this podcast, she was director of library services at Johnson C. Smith University and served as chair of the HBCU Library Alliance Board. She has since moved to UCLA’s Bunche Center, where she is working on Archiving in the Age of Mass Incarceration, a Million Dollar Hoods Project. She is also a doctoral student at High Point University. Her 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. 

Erika Witt

Interim Circulation Librarian, Southern University at New Orleans

Erika Witt is interim circulation librarian, adjunct professor, and Keeper of Collections at Southern University at New Orleans, engaged primarily with collections management and circulation of library materials. Her focus is on the arts of Africa and museology. Erika has developed numerous exhibitions of art and history and cared for collections in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Virginia. Her recent work includes collection management at the Harrison Museum of African American History in Roanoke, Virginia, and Southern University at New Orleans African Art Collections. She is a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Design Program in Cultural Preservation at Louisiana State University.

Kofi Amu Horne

Kofi Amu Horne


Kofi Amu Horne is an American-born West African traditionalist producer and percussionist located in Gainesville, Florida. He created the theme music for season three, which is based on a call used by Akan people in Ghana. Mr. Horne is a vital member of Hedzole dance tutor and Ajose Afrikan and studied under Papa C.K Gano, Agbedzidzi and other West African dance troupes. 

Ida E. Jones

Ida E. Jones

University Archivist, Morgan State University

Dr. Ida E. Jones is the first university archivist hired at Morgan State University. She is the author of four books. Her recent book, Baltimore City Rights Leader Victorine Q. Adams, the Power of the Ballot, won the 2019 AAHGS International biography book award. In spring 2020, her blog post “Mary McLeod Bethune, True Democracy and the Fight for Universal Suffrage” appeared on the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission website.

Blanche Sanders

dean, university libraries, Alcorn State University

Dr. Blanche Sanders provides leadership in library services at Alcorn State University and its branch campuses. She brings more than 20 years of experience and professional training in library services and administration, in which she served in roles including circulation librarian and archivist. She has received professional training in numerous leadership institutes, and was named the 1890 vice-president elect for Library Deans/Directors Association.

University Archivist Dana Chandler

Dana Chandler

University Archivist and Associate Professor, Tuskegee University

Dana Chandler is an archivist and historian who received his graduate degree from Auburn University. He is the co-author of To Raise Up the Man Farthest Down: Tuskegee University’s Advancements in Human Health, 1881-1987 (University of Alabama Press, 2018). He has made more than 70 presentations at a variety of venues and teaches history in the Department of History and Political Science. He specializes in the history of Tuskegee University.

Wanda Scott Kinney

Wanda Scott Kinney

Coordinator of Archives and Institutional Records, Benedict College

Wanda Scott-Kinney is responsible for coordinating the services and operations of the Benjamin F. Payton Learning Resources Center, Archives Center. She makes available materials that document the college’s 150 years and supports preservation of its special historic collections. She draws upon her years of experience working with records and performing research to consciously navigate the learning processes of preservation and conservation of archival materials.

Porchia Moore

program head of museum studies, University of Florida

Dr. Porchia Moore is the program head of museum studies at the University of Florida and an affiliate faculty in the Center for Arts, Migration, and Entrepreneurship. She dually earned her doctorate from the School of Library and Information Science and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Management from the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina. A recipient of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century fellowship, she is a museum visionary and activist-scholar who employs Critical Race Theory to interrogate museums and other cultural heritage spaces.

DeLisa Minor Harris

DeLisa Minor Harris

Assistant Director of Library Services, Fisk University

DeLisa Minor Harris is a Fisk alumna who returned in 2016 to serve her alma mater after completing her master’s degree at the University of North Texas and spending four years with the Nashville Public Library.  Since her start at Fisk University, she has curated five exhibits including, “Lord, I’m Out Here on Your Word” -Fisk Jubilee Singers: Singing from Spirit to Spirit” and written two articles published in the enlarged two-volume set of the Encyclopedia of African American Business, ABC/CLIO. She served as an HBCU Library Alliance and Digital Library Federation (DLF) Authenticity Project Fellow and is now a Mellon-RBS Cultural Heritage Fellow (2020-2022) focused on conducting bibliographic research on the seed book collection of Fisk University’s “Negro Collection.

Meet the Host

Sharon Burney

Sharon M. Burney

Program Officer

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 she 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. When in rest mode, you can find her enjoying the simple moments with her daughters and pets.

Season 3 Episodes

S3 E7: Cradle of Student Protest

In this last stop on our HBCU Library Alliance tour, we visit Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, a town known as the cradle of student protest. DeLisa Minor Harris provides a stunning overview...

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S3 E6: Sankofa

The Lowcountry of South Carolina is home to the Gullah Geechee people, whose language and traditions retain strong connections to their West African ancestors. But gentrification threatens their ability to practice the crafts...

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S3 E5: By Actions and Not by Words

Take a deep dive into Tuskegee University’s remarkable collections, from the notebooks of George Washington Carver to 20th century newspapers and photographs documenting the lives of ordinary Black Alabamans. In this episode, we...

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S3 E4: If Walls Could Talk

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...

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S3 E3: Walking on Sacred Ground

As the inaugural university archivist at Morgan State University, Dr. Ida Jones has a unique window into Maryland’s largest HBCU. Morgan’s history is deeply entwined with the history of Black politics, activism, and...

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S3 Bonus: Cadence to the Rhythm of Life

Kofi Amu Horne, who created the theme music for this season of Material Memory, started drumming before he was two. Join us for a special bonus episode where Kofi talks about drumming as...

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S3 E2: There’s Magic in Creating Something from Nothing

Museums are for everyone, says librarian and curator Erika Witt. Join us for a conversation about Southern University at New Orleans’s African art collection, her transformative trip to Egypt, and how galleries, libraries,...

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S3 E1: Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams

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...

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