Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to Present Black History Month Events

January 29, 2016

Gordon Morgan
Gordon Morgan

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Arkansas will host two community events on Feb. 18 as part of Black History Month. The events are free and the public is invited.

The first is a discussion of The Edge of Campus: A Journal of the Black Experience at the University of Arkansas written by U of A professor emeritus Gordon D. Morgan and his wife, Izola Preston. The second is a talk titled "Celebrating Black History Month: Preserving African American History in Northwest Arkansas" by Sharon Killian, an instructor in the U of A Department of Art.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is partnering on both events with Compassion Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History and the Northwest Arkansas African American Heritage Association, Inc.

"We are delighted to collaborate with local Compassion Fayetteville and the Pryor Center during Black History Month in February," said Susan Tonymon, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which is based in the College of Education and Health Professions. "The Osher institute is pleased to facilitate the community book review and public presentation to help create awareness as well as preserve, reflect and share the rich contributions African-Americans have made in our community."

The Osher institute offers a number of classes throughout the year that focus on teaching older generations different skills or hobbies. The program provides high quality, affordable educational, cultural and engagement opportunities for mature adults, according to the website. Registration may be done online.

Jimmye Whitfield and Pattie Williams, members of the Compassion Fayetteville Black History team, will give a review of the Morgan book from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 18 at Bordino's Restaurant, 310 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville. The program is part of the OLLI Books Monthly Luncheon. Those attending can purchase lunch.

Reservations are required by calling 479-575-4545 or e-mailing social committee member Melinda Nickle at melindanickle@outlook.com. The deadline is Feb. 8. Space is limited, so reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Morgan earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Arkansas AM&N College in Pine Bluff, before serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He then received a master's degree from the University of Arkansas in 1956. After teaching in Conway and Pine Bluff, he earned his doctorate from Washington State University in 1961. He became the first black professor hired by the University of Arkansas in 1969.

He also wrote America without Ethnicity.

Morgan and his wife established the Gordon D. and Izola P. Morgan Graduate Fellowship in Sociology at Washington State University and the Gordon Morgan Family Scholarship for minority students at the University of Arkansas.

Sharon Killian
Sharon Killian
Killian will give her presentation from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Pryor Center for Oral and Visual History, 1 East Center St. in Fayetteville. The talk focuses on African-American history in Washington County, Arkansas. No registration is required, but helpful by email to olli@uark.edu  or visiting the institute's website at www.olli.uark.edu.

"It has been largely kept a mystery that black people were enslaved in Fayetteville and nearby surrounding communities in Washington County, Arkansas," Killian said. "The story goes that the business of slavery was conducted in the Delta on large plantations, not here.  However, in beginning the early 1800's, African-Americans were here settling and helping to create these communities. We will learn about the strength of survival from enslavement to today through familiar names and faces in our very own community. We will also learn a bit about the effort to end the longstanding trend of erasing the history African-Americans and their communities as gentrification and change move in."

Killian is an artist as well as teaching art at the U of A. With the late Melba Smith, Killian has served in the leadership of the Northwest Arkansas African American Heritage Association Inc. since 2008. The association's mission is to preserve and document African-American heritage in Northwest Arkansas. In addition to residents in the community whose roots extend to enslavement in the area, another important resource in getting to this history has been burial sites. The association's outreach extends to Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties in partnership with the Arkansas Archeological Survey, other educational organizations, groups and individuals. To learn more about preservation efforts, contact Killian at skillian@cox.net.

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