February 12, 2024

Warriors in the Community, Episode 41: Preserving Black history

Warriors in the Community is a radio segment that features short, insightful interviews with key figures from Wayne State University about the many ways in which the university and its programs make a positive impact on the metro area and on the lives of Detroiters. 

In this episode, we are joined by Louis Jones, archivist for the Walter Reuther Library and one of those responsible for the growth and maintainence of WSU's tremendous storehouse of historical documents. Jones offers insight into the magnitude of the Reuther collections, the meticulous process of gathering and ordering the countless boxes of materials and the critical importance of Black representation in our local and national narrative.

Announcer:  This is Warriors in the community, brought to you by Wayne State University, and now to learn about how Wayne State is positively impacting our communities. Here's Darrell Dawsey.

Darrell Dawsey: We're joined by Lewis Jones, Ph.D., archivist for the Walter P. Reuther Library. First off, can you give us a general sense of the size of the collections archived at the Walter Reuther Library, and perhaps some sense of how much of that deals directly with, uh, black history and black history makers at the Reuther Library?

Louis Jones, Ph.D.

Louis Jones: If you were to stack all of our boxes up against one another, it'd probably be about six or seven miles and a decent amount of that concerns the documentation of Black History here in Detroit.

Darrell Dawsey: Tell us about some of the people, some of the organizations that you guys have captured, uh, in those archives.

Louis Jones: Yeah. Yeah. We have a number of really large collections. We have the records of New Detroit to focus hope. Of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. We have the records of Ed Littlejohn, who is law professor at Wayne State University. He collected a lot of material that he later used for a book, actually a couple of books, that he wrote on black lawyers and judges in Detroit and on George Crockett.

Darrell Dawsey: Now, you also recently acquired the papers for, uh, Horace Sheffield Jr. Labor Leader here.

Louis Jones: Not one of the larger ones, but you know, it's still a very densely packed. Collection of really good material and Sheffield was heavily involved in the union movement, the Detroit associated black organizations.

He's played a, a very significant role within the Detroit NAACP.

Darrell Dawsey: Can you tell us in your words why the university's so committed to the preservation and promotion of black history, both in February and year-round?

Louis Jones: This is a really important subject. This says so much about African-Americans themselves in this country, but about the larger United States.If we wanna be familiar with what happened, we have to have documents that document this history. Otherwise people's memories lapse and, and people pass. But these records remain in place for the duration.

Darrell Dawsey: Thank you so much for joining me, Louis Jones.

Louis Jones: Okay, thank you.

Announcer: This has been Warriors in the community. For more Wayne State News, please visit us online at today.wayne.edu/wwj and join us here next Monday at the same time for more Warriors in the community.


Faculty spotlight


Darrell Dawsey
Phone: 313-577-1204
Email: Darrell.Dawsey@wayne.edu

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