Durham, N.C. — With February’s recognition of Black History Month, NCCU plays an important role in preserving its own history. North Carolina Central University is one of four Historically Black Colleges and Universities to receive a Getty Images Photo-Archive grant.
Within the collection of black and white and color photo archives, the school has stories yet to be told and images yet to be revealed to the public. “We’re talking about thousands of images,” said Andre’ D. Vann, university archivist and instructor of public history.
The rarely seen images represent 111 years of the school’s history. Vann says the new “Getty Images Grant will help them enhance their precious pictures with the latest technology. “The idea to sort of digitally make available these images to a much larger, brighter world,” said Vann.
The collection includes images of the school’s most notable figures like Asa T. Spaulding, a vice chairman on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in the 50’s and 60’s.
There’s also iconic sports figures like Sam Jones. Vann said, “Of course, Sam Jones played basketball here and was by far one of the greatest basketball players in this region; that’s white or black by the way.”
And a lesser known but significant figure, Ernst Monasse, a German Jew who fled Hitler and later met Central’s founder – James Shepard who hired him as a professor at NCCU.
“And Dr. Shepard was among the other historically black colleges and universities that opened their doors to Jewish immigrants,” added Vann.
He said, “The hope of this is that we have to sort of make visible the lived experiences of African-Americans. This is not just African American history, but a part of the United States history.”
It’s a history that he plans to preserve for many generations to come. “They get a new life and we get a new way to sort of tell these stories,”said Vann.
With their preservation work, North Carolina Central University will retain all copyright privileges to benefit the school’s programs.
The collection will be stored in the HBCU Photo Collection of Getty Images.
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