Black History Month in the Delmarva
Dr. Clara Small, former SU professor of history, talked Thursday about African-Americans from the Delmarva area in continuation of Black History Month. The lecture she gave had an interest from people of different age groups and backgrounds.
The audience included Dr. April Logan from the English department, Vaughn White from Multicultural Student Services, and Dr. Maarten Pereboom, dean of the Fulton School of Liberal Arts. People who helped with her research and books were also in attendance.
“Without Dr. Small, a lot of our programs might not have been initiated many years ago,” White said in his opening remarks. “She has really been carrying the torch for history on the Eastern Shore.”
Small was a history professor at SU for 36 years from 1977 until 2013. While at the school, she taught courses in world civilizations, African-American history, readings in African-American history, local African-American history and U.S. history.
Though Small is originally from North Carolina, she has been on the Eastern Shore for 40 years and calls it, and SU, her home. She has been the beneficiary of many awards including the Harriet Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award.
Small now has a total of five books. The most recent ones are “They Wore Blue and Their Hearts Were Loyal: The United States Colored Troops of Dorchester County, Maryland” (2017), which is co-authored with Teresa M. Neild, and “Compass Points: Profiles and Biographies of African Americans from the Delmarva Peninsula Volume II”.
Small said she wants people to be aware of the Eastern Shore’s history and restore lost information. She encourages people to check out the Nabb Center on the fourth floor of the Academic Commons to learn more on the Delmarva area.
In her lecture she talked about three men: Isaiah Fassett, Carr Handy and George H. Carr. Each were residents of the Eastern Shore counties and were sent to fight in the Civil War at a young age. Some of these soldiers were not on file because the data was not recorded properly, but collaboration from people alive at the time allowed for substantial information to be developed.
“She’s a gem as far as preserving this local history that sometimes people over look,” Dr. April Logan stated.
Small talked about how African-American participation in the war is not recognized very much. She told of how African-American were barely paid enough, had poor medical care and some who were slaves were told that they would be freed after the war, which sometimes did not happen.
On April 12, 1864, 300 African-American soldiers and their officers, as well as women and children, were massacred in Tennessee. Although those 300 African-Americans could have been taken in as prisoners of war, they were instead massacred, which is something that is not widely talked about in history classes.
History is an important part of what makes a person who they are.
“There this idea that we’re out of history – nothing exciting happened here,” Logan said. “I think for this it does give students a senses of the richness of their history and the richness of their culture when they come to an event and learn about these special people and these are things they may not be aware of.”
This event was co-sponsored by the Fulton Public Humanities Program, department of history, Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture and the Office of Multicultural Student Services.
“African-American history is part of American history that everybody needs to be aware of,” Logan said.
By SYLLIA NEWSTEAD
Featured photo: Dr. Clara Small (Syllia Newstead image).