(Posted February 10, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Charles Blockson, curator of the Charles Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University and a nationally reconized expert on the Underground Railroad, will give a talk at Juniata College, "African-Americans in Pennsylvania: The Underground Railroad" at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 12 in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Science Center on the Juniata campus.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Blockson is considered one of the country's leading experts on the Underground Railroad. He is very knowledgeable about Underground Railroad history and sites in central Pennsylvania because he has researched sites around the area. Blockson, who played fullback on the Penn State University football team in a backfield that included pro football Hall-of-Famer Lenny Moore, graduated from Penn State in 1956.

After turning down an offer to play professional football for the New York Giants, Blockson became an educator for the Norristown Area School District in Norristown, Pa.

During his professional and personal travels, Blockson began collecting books relating to African, African-American and African-Caribbean history. By 1983, when Blockson donated his collection to Temple University, his collection of 30,000 publications included slave narratives, African Bibles, first editions from Phyllis Wheatly and W.E.B. DuBois, sheet music owned by Paul Robeson, narratives written by Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth and more than 500,000 photographs.

The Charles L. Blockson Collection at Temple is one of the nation's leading research facilities for the history and culture of African-Americans.
Blockson has written a wide range of books and articles, including "African-Americans in Pennsylvania: Above Ground and Underground" (2001), "African-Americans in Pennsylvania: A History and Guide" (1994), "The Underground Railroad" (1987) and "The Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania" (1981).

Blockson's visit to Juniata is sponsored by the Juniata Speakers Fund, the Malloy Fund and the college's Office for Diversity.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.