Kent State library set to debut Black History Month exhibit


Daily Kent Stater ad for an appearance of Sly and the Family Stone in the Memorial Gym (now The MAC Center) on Friday, February 11, 1972. Photo courtesy of Kent State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives.

Walter Doerschuk

The Kent State library is using some of the university’s history to honor Black History Month.

The library is revealing an exhibit that honors some of the most well–known black icons when they were on Kent State’s campus, mostly in the 1960s and 70s. A reception will be held for the exhibit on Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. on the library’s first floor.

Library associate Jason Prufer helped put one faction of the exhibit together. Prufer said he did a separate exhibit two years ago, where his job was to go through the Daily Kent Stater “page by page by page” and find pictures of people who have been on campus. He said he kept finding figures from black history, among others, and thought a Black History Month exhibit would be an interest.

“This was something I could not ignore,” Prufer said.

Pictures of Muhammad Ali, Bill Cosby, Earth Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder are among photos on exhibit. Many of the photos were taken from the Daily Kent Stater and the Chestnut Burr.

One of the most notable photos is of Jesse Jackson, who was a keynote speaker at the commons on May 4, 1971, the one-year anniversary of the May 4 shootings. Jackson drew 6,000 people to the commons near Taylor and Oscar Ritchie halls.

Another is of Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong, who performed at Memorial Gym (now known as the M.A.C. Center) on Oct. 21, 1967.

Kate Siebert-Medicus, a special collections cataloger, assisted in another faction of the exhibit. Her section of the display highlights material from Kent State’s special collections.

A notable photo from her section is from a student march that took place on April 8, 1968, the Monday following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Siebert-Medicus said although the exhibit will feature both her and Prufer’s pieces, her work was independent of his.

“My part invites people to come up to special collections and archives for research,” she said. “Jason’s is a result doing just that — digging through archives and going through the Daily Kent Stater. It’s interesting have those two things close to each other.”

James Bracken, dean of Library and Media Services at the library, said the exhibit is another resource available to library users.

“We are putting this out on display because they are resources people can use,” Bracken said. “We have primary resources. People can use them, and that’s why they are here.”

Contact Walter Doerschuk at [email protected].