Margaret Walker Personal Papers Digital Archives Project

Monday, January 5, 2015: 8:50 AM
Concourse A (New York Hilton)
Robert Luckett, Jackson State University
Margaret Walker’s academic and artistic legacies as a scholar, author, teacher, and activist are unparalleled.  With classic works such as her poem “For My People” and the neo-slave narrative Jubilee, Walker was a tangible connection between the diverse group of artists who comprised the Harlem Renaissance and modern black writers such as Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, and James Baldwin.  At Jackson State University, Margaret Walker was a long-time faculty member in the English Department, and, in 1968, she founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life, and Culture of Black People—a museum and archive at JSU that today bears her name: the Margaret Walker Center for the Study of the African-American Experience. Walker’s literary, administrative, and personal papers comprise one of the single largest collections of a modern, black female writer anywhere in the world.  Roughly 50% of these papers, including 13,000 pages of a handwritten journal kept from the 1930s to the 1990s, have been digitized and made available online.

A black female intellectual working at a HBCU in Mississippi from 1949 to 1979, Margaret Walker faced all of the obstacles created by her race and gender at the height of the Jim Crow power structure and the advancing modern civil rights movement.  This discussion will delve into her remarkable life and the unique glimpse that her manuscript collection provides.  The Margaret Walker Personal Papers preserve her story, and the Digital Archives Project guarantees its accessibility for people around the world.