Celebrating Black History & Culture

Expanding our knowledge of Black people, their histories and their contributions toward creating a more just society is an act of reconciliation and an expression of value for the vastness of their experiences.

“We must live with vision.”

Unearthing the truth of the past

A team of Towson University researchers has begun the multiyear Unearthing Towson’s History Project to investigate and publicize the institution’s exclusionist past and its ongoing efforts to diversify. 

The interdisciplinary collaborative effort centers students as researchers and interpreters and connects alumni and the wider community to the university. With the project, TU joins efforts at American colleges and universities to come to terms with a legacy of racial inequality in American higher education.

John Gissendanner

Vision, honesty and guts

The Legacy of John Gissendanner, professor emeritus of English

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john gissendanner

National Black History Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

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TU’s message for Black History Month

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of our values and priorities here at Towson University. As we work on this focus together, we want to ensure that all our students, faculty and staff feel seen and heard through an inclusive environment and a collaborative and supportive community. So, while Black History Month is celebrated every February, we celebrate Black achievements, culture and history year-round,” writes Patricia Bradley, vice president for inclusion and institutional equity.

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The Trailblazers

Julius Chapman

Transforming the future

Julius Chapman became Towson State College’s first dean of minority affairs a half-century ago. During his 12-year career, he recruited and mentored African American students while helping to establish the Black Student Union, the Black Faculty and Administrators Association and the Black Cultural Center. 

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Gabrielle Stanback

Pushing past boundaries

Gabrielle Stanback ’22 became the first Black female student to solo with the Towson University Symphony Orchestra in 2018. In 2020, she received one of 20 inaugural music innovation grants for promising young musicians. The scholarship enabled her to continue summer studies with TU associate professor of violin Jeffrey Howard.

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Barnes and Harris homecoming

Achievement over adversity

When a Supreme Court decision opened the door to educational opportunity, Marvis Barnes ’59 and Myra Harris ’59 stepped through to enroll at the State Teachers College at Towson. Their arrival signaled the beginning of a determined, rewarding—and at times hurtful—journey. Today, two West Village residence halls are named in their honor.

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Historically African American fraternities and sororities on campus.


The first time the Black Studies major is offered in the curriculum.


Number of years the Black Student Leadership Conference has been held.

two women holding small flags
A historic moment

First student-written production part of TU mainstage season

Chloe ’21 and Kayla Harvey ’23 explore their family’s creation of the African American flag in “20|02,” a collaborative production with Morgan State University

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Expertise in health, history and politics

Andrew Diemer

Andrew Diemer

Andrew Diemer, Ph.D., associate professor of history, has authored several books on African American history and the history of slavery and anti-slavery. His book “Vigilance: The Life of William Still, Father of the Underground Railroad,” explores the life of a lesser known, yet very significant, figure in Black American history.

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Tara Blackshear

Tara Blackshear

In response to the lack of physical activity and education work focusing on Black youth led by Black scholars, Tara Blackshear, Ed.D., associate professor or kinesiology, co-authored Critical Race Studies in Physical Education. This resource helps teachers understand crucial issues that Black students face in physical education and learn culturally competent classroom strategies.

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Donn Worgs

Donn Worgs

Donn Worgs, Ph.D., professor of political science and director of the African & African American Studies program, explores current events within contemporary and historical contexts in his research and teaching. His areas of expertise include Black morality politics, urban neighborhoods, revitalization politics and community-driven development in The Gambia and Senegal.

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Exploring a local and complicated history

Lecturer Ada Pinkston, a 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Faculty Fellow, uses anthropological material, service learning, and the past of the Hampton National Historical Site to teach the history of colonialism, the construction of race, and the impact of forced labor.

Meet Ada Pinkston

Enriching the community


African and African American studies program

The African and African American studies minor explores the historical and social experiences and cultural contributions of Africans and people of African descent in a global perspective. It also provides a critical perspective on race in American society.

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African studies research guide

Research guides from Albert S. Cook Library include materials supporting the study of African American history and culture and the African Diaspora, including databases, books, primary sources, visual and performing arts collections and more.

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Relearning the past, reimagining the future

Voices of Baltimore: Life under Segregation preserves the rich oral histories of a quickly diminishing population of African Americans who attended segregated schools or experienced desegregation before and after the historic 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

TU College of Education faculty members Gary Homana, Ph.D., and Morna McDermott McNulty, Ph.D., along with Franklin Campbell Jones, Ph.D., produced and directed the film that asks the question, “Where have we been, and where are we going?”

TU’s commemoration of Juneteenth

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. The university celebrates Juneteenth annually by hosting programs that provide an opportunity for the community to heal, reflect, support, educate, and take action in meaningful ways.

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Brandon Wharton ’17

Making modern-day history

TU alumnus named first black editor-in-chief of Maryland Law Review

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TU celebrates and recognizes the cultural identities and lived experiences of its community members.

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