The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection will be opening its doors for a new exhibit featuring the life of Samuel L. Evans, in hopes to preserving the activist’s legacy.
Diane Turner, curator of the Afro-American Collection, said she has a passion for the new exhibition. The exhibit opened Nov. 11 at 1330 Polett Walk.
The Afro-American collection chooses the exhibits it will open depending on the current collections they hold. “We have over five hundred thousand items here, over five thousand rare books,” Turner said.
“What we were attempting to do was help preserve his legacy and let students know about his contributions,” Turner said.
Turner said it took two years to deliver desired material on Evans to Temple. Ethel Barnetta, a friend of Evans, is one of the donors of the collection.
“With the stamp of approval from Barnet, we all decided this exhibit was going to be a celebration of Samuel L. Evans life,” Turner said.
Evans referred to himself as the longest living democrat in the nation. President Roosevelt honored him for being of influence in democratic politics from the 1920s to 2008.
Samuel Evans met a handful of substantial people in politics, including President Clinton, President George W. Bush and President Carter.
In 1968, Evans founded the American Foundation for Negro Affairs. His organization mentored over 825,000 people. For over 35 years, he produced symphony orchestra concerts at the Academy of the music.
“He lived to be 106, and during that time he was active until almost the end of his life,” Turner said. “If he had an opinion about something or someone he would write to them continuously.”
Turner said Evans had a way of making people remember him.
“Samuel Evans was the first African American impresario international widely known,” Turner said.
Evans sought to maintain democratic principles by confronting problems in American society involving race, human rights and human welfare.
“They called him the King of Philadelphia” Turner said.
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