Photo: Courtesy of Spelman College Archives
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Spelman College Archives to house African Voices Magazine

The Spelman College Archives will be the new repository for African Voices, a literary magazine devoted to publishing emerging writers and visual artists of color from the diaspora.

Founded in 1992, African Voices Communications, Inc, a nonprofit arts institution, publishes one of the few surviving print magazines documenting Black art, literature and culture.

Past editions of the magazine, along with organizational records, videos and digitized photographs that span three decades, will be preserved by Spelman College, alongside a historical archive of the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series, the first Academy Awards qualifying film festival dedicated to providing opportunities to women of colour in the film industry.

Through this partnership, which will be funded by a grant from the New York Community Trust, the Archives will also have access to an extensive list of 5,000 films produced, directed or written by women of colour since 1997.

I am elated for the donation of the African Voices collection to the Spelman College Archives, and for the ongoing collaborative relationship. This partnership will amplify the work of the African Voices staff, board, the creative artistry of the contributors, and the depth and breadth of the Black diasporic cultural experience overall, said Holly A Smith, Spelman archivist. The connection will also facilitate important research on the experiences of Black women and Black communities nationally and internationally. Spelman’s archives will be a wonderful and careful steward of these materials for long term access and preservation of this critically important collection.

The African Voices archive will include magazine editions from 1993 through 2021, including issues guest edited by poets Sonia Sanchez and Quincy Troupe, and a speculative fiction issue edited by Sherée Renee Thomas that features an interview with Spelman’s former Distinguished Chair for the Humanities Tananarive Due, and a short poem by Audre Lorde, whose papers are also held by the Archives.

In addition to literature, photography and film, the full archive will include the work of several powerful artists whose visual language compliments the magazine’s literary contributions by emerging and established writers.

Past editions include rare photographs of a youthful Ntozake Shange by Puerto Rican artist Adál, world-renowned graffiti artist JamesTop, the celebrated photography of Chester Higgins, Jules Allen and Jamal Shabazz, and work created by master artists Otto Neal, Faith Ringgold, Verna Hart, Elizabeth Catlett, Danny Simmons and Ademola Olugebefola.

We’re proud to have a prominent HBCU and women’s college house nearly 30 years of writings, art and digital media by artists of African descent, said Carolyn A Butts, executive director and founder of African Voices. As home to the work of author-filmmaker Toni Cade Bambara and others, it is an honour to have our collection archived in such a fitting institution that is aligned with our mission to support Black artists and women.

Spelman has been committed to documenting its history since its founding in 1881. As the official repository of the College, the greater part of the Archives consists of administrative records, departmental and program records, publications, photographs and other material related to the history and administration of the College.

For further information, visit African Voices. For more information on the Spelman College Archive, visit this link.


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