Higher Learning Institutions Educate Community


Staff Writer

WHEELING — Colleges and universities throughout the region offers a wide variety of degree programs and career training, but they also help educate non-student community members with a number of outreach activities.

For example, West Virginia Northern Community College recently welcomed the curator of African-American collections at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh to make a presentation for Black History Month. Samuel Black made his third visit to WVNCC last week to teach local students and citizens about the historic black photographer from West Virginia, Allen Cole.

“His father, Allen Cole Sr., was born into slavery in 1839 in Jefferson County (in what was then Virginia), and his mother, Sara, was actually born in South Carolina in 1847 also into slavery. Cole was one of the seven children of these former slaves. … He came to be quite successful,” said Black.

Wheeling historian Margaret Brennan has heard Black speak in the past and did not treat his visit to the Friendly City any differently than previous visits.

“I love this guy, and he comes here a lot and I come every time he comes. I just think this is a great way to honor black history and Black History Month and to learn more about heritage that we all as Americans share, not just black heritage,” said Brennan.

Student activities coordinator for WVNCC Sara Wood hopes the visit enriches the lives of students and residents alike.

“For the past three years we have invited Mr. Black, and he has done several different presentations from the research that he has done throughout his life. We have a presentation for Women’s History Month coming up, too, and it’s going to be someone actually portraying Sojourner Truth, which includes her attire and acting out her life. This is open to the public and students at Northern. We try to offer activities throughout the year that are educational and fun for our students to take part in. “

According to Wood, West Virginia Northern Community College regularly holds a presentation for Black History Month each year. Black holds a degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in Africana studies from the State University of New York at Albany, where he was the recipient of the Perry-Drake Weston Award.

In addition to being the current curator for African-American collections at Senator John Heinz History Center, Black is the former curator of the Allen E. Cole Collection at the Western Reserve Historical Society. Black is also the editor of the anthology “Soul Soldiers — African Americans and the Vietnam Era” and serves as vice president of the Association of African American Museums.


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