The Africana Studies Collection at the Cushing Memorial Library & Archives at Texas A&M University explores the African diaspora and many facets of African-American culture, history, and life. The archives include a wide variety of items including old photographs of African American soldiers, slavery and emancipation documents, and comics depicting Black superheroes.
Rebecca Hankins, a Texas A&M professor and archivist at Cushing Library, has been building the collection since she joined the university in 2003. She has focused her research and acquisitions involving organizations such as the Black Panthers and Students for a Democratic Society. Flyers, posters, and documents that were handed out during protest movements are also among the items Hankins often looks to acquire for the collection.
“In some ways some of that material is always lost because no one thinks it’s important,” Hankins said. “There was a piece of ephemera that I bought that was from an organization of writers who got together and wanted to start writing on particular issues dealing with civil rights, and it just so happened that Toni Morrison was one of those individuals.”
“Oftentimes when we’re talking about history we see the final aspect, and not how things are processed,” Hankins said. “For me, that’s important so people can see these are things we can replicate in our own lives. They didn’t start out as the momentous occasions that we celebrate now. They started out from individuals coming together and working to make sure we have some product, something to show people at the end.”
Hankins is a graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans. She holds a master of library and information science degree from Louisiana State University.