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Charles Blockson to receive Philadelphia Award

Charles Blockson, the namesake of the Charles Blockson Afro-American Collection in Sullivan Hall, will receive the Philadelphia Award for 2016 in honor of his documentation of African-American history in Philadelphia and nationwide. He will be presented with the award on May 25 at Temple, the Philadelphia Tribune reported. The Philadelphia Award is given each year… Read more »

Charles Blockson, the namesake of the Charles Blockson Afro-American Collection in Sullivan Hall, will receive the Philadelphia Award for 2016 in honor of his documentation of African-American history in Philadelphia and nationwide. He will be presented with the award on May 25 at Temple, the Philadelphia Tribune reported.

The Philadelphia Award is given each year to a Philadelphia citizen who worked to serve the community’s best interests. It was created in 1921 by Edward Bok, a Philadelphia author, editor, philanthropist, and community leader. The winner is selected by the award’s Board of Trustees and given a $25,000 honorarium.

“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 to the Tribune.

Blockson has donated his collection of more than 500,000 books, photographs, and other documents to Temple; co-founded Philadelphia’s African American Museum; and gifted other historical items to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution and Pennsylvania State University.

David L. Cohen, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Award, said in a statement to the Tribune, “[Blockson] is one of those rare souls who has put all of his energies into understanding and celebrating every triumph and travail of African-American history, so that future generations of fourth-graders may never be left wondering where they came from.”

“His life work truly embodies the mission of the Philadelphia Award, and fellow members of our community are fortunate to have access to his impressive collection right here at Temple University,” he added.

Laura Smythe can be reached at laura.smythe@temple.edu.

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