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Living Black History

In the foyer of McCabe Library, there is a wooden bench from Longwood Progressive Friends Meetinghouse. Longwood’s annual meeting, held from 1853 to 1940, offered the chance to discuss a broad range of reforms. Perhaps seated in this very bench, Sojourner Truth often attended the organizational meeting, famously advocating for peace: “You can’t make life, so don’t take it.” 

The last clerk of Longwood was Jesse Holmes, a Swarthmore College professor—the sale of the Longwood meetinghouse funded a lectureship in his name at Howard University.

Next, there is the Elizabeth Powell Bond Rose Garden.
Her brother was Aaron M. Powell, the last editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard. He began speaking out against slavery after attending a meeting where Sojourner Truth walked down from the podium, pointed directly at him, and told him to become an anti-slavery lecturer. 

A little farther up the hill is Swarthmore Friends Meetinghouse, the site of the Swarthmore College Institute of Race Relations. The roster of lecturers at the first two meetings in 1933 and 1934 included African-Americans
E. Franklin Frazier, W. W. Alexander, William White, Ralph Bunche, and James Weldon Johnson; white lecturers included Franz Boas and Melville Herskovits.

Next time you are in McCabe Library, crossing the Rose Garden or at a Collection in the Friends Meetinghouse, remember you are in a living black-history exhibit. Remember also that you are part of that history.