January 22, 2018

VSU Unveils African American History Collection at Odum Library

VSU students Brody Roberts and Raul Serrano view the Roy Copeland African American History Collection in VSU's Odum Library.

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University recently unveiled the Roy Copeland African American History Collection, a display of materials that spans 150 years of history. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, retirees, and friends of the university are invited to view the collection on the first floor of Odum Library, in the lobby directly beneath the second-floor Circulation Desk.

The collection of more than 100 pieces was recently donated to the Harvey Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration by Copeland, associate professor of management at VSU, and his wife, Dr. Cheryl Copeland. The collection is being administered by VSU Archives and Special Collections. A portion of the collection will remain on display in Odum Library until March 15, with plans to eventually create a permanent home for the full collection. 

The Roy Copeland African American History Collection includes a signed letter from civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; a document bearing the signature of Civil War era abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass; a signed letter from George Washington Carver, the early 20th century inventor; signed photos of the World War II Tuskegee airmen, the first group of African American pilots to serve in the United States armed forces; a book signed by Jackie Robinson, the first African American Major League Baseball player; and a document on African American soldiers dating back to the Civil War.

“It’s an amazing gift,” said Deborah Davis, director of VSU Archives and Special Collections. “It’s a very rich gift. I think it’s going to be important to our students and to our faculty teaching classes.

“It’s a unique picture of history, and it shows the important events in African American history. African American history is an important part of American history. It’s very important to acknowledge it and celebrate it.”

Copeland accumulated the collection over a period of 30 years, obtaining the historical documents and photographs at live auctions, garage sales, and antique houses across the United States.

“African American history, and the preservation thereof, is near and dear to my heart,” he said. “My wife and I decided that VSU was the best place to house the collection. It’s local, and I think we need a place where local folks have access to this material.”

The Roy Copeland African American History Collection can be viewed during normal library hours. Odum Library is open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, from noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays, and from noon to 2 a.m. Sundays. 

Please contact Deborah Davis at (229) 333-7150 or dsdavis@valdosta.edu to learn more.

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