Tuskegee Spotlights Homegrown Icons Hurston, Ellison, Murray

Albert Murray

A two-year grant totaling nearly $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities will help Tuskegee University faculty produce curriculum, digital humanities resources and community engagement activities focused on three black authors with ties to Alabama.

The grant, “Literary Legacies of Macon County and Tuskegee Institute: Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Albert Murray,” among the newest NEH-funded digital projects, preserved collections and humanities initiatives on college campuses.

The project will connect students to these literary and cultural icons, each of whom is connected biographically and artistically to Macon County, Tuskegee University and HBCUs. Dr. Adaku Ankumah, a professor of English and chair of the Department of Communication, Modern Languages and Philosophy, is leading the effort.

“By studying the works of and engaging with scholars knowledgeable about these pre-eminent authors who helped document the racial struggles of the 20th century, students will be able to understand and contextualize 21st century challenges in culture and society,” Ankumah says.

The project also will include workshops for teachers and outreach programs for the community. It will leverage the resources of the Tuskegee University Library System, which includes the university archives and museums, as well as its recently established Arthur Murray collection, “Beyond Category,” which celebrates the work of the 1939 Tuskegee University graduate.

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The Tuskegee grant is the largest of three grants awarded to Alabama universities. It is one of 253 humanities grants totaling $14.8 million awarded by NEH in December 2018.

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