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Tuskegee faculty to create NEH-funded curricula focused on black authors with Alabama ties

January 04, 2019

Michael Tullier, Tuskegee University Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
Paula Wasley, National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Communications, (202) 606-8424


Zora Neale-Hurston, Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray
Hurston, Ellison and Murray - (See photo credits in footnote)

A two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will help Tuskegee University faculty produce new curricular materials, digital humanities resources, and community engagement activities focused on three 20th century authors: Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray.

Tuskegee’s grant, entitled “Literary Legacies of Macon County and Tuskegee Institute: Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Albert Murray” and totaling nearly $100,000, is among the newest NEH-funded digital projects, preserved collections, and humanities initiatives on college campuses.

The project, under the direction of Dr. Adaku Ankumah, a professor of English and chair of the Department of Communication, Modern Languages and Philosophy, will advance humanities education at Tuskegee University. It will connect current and future generations of students to these literary and cultural icons — each of whom is connected biographically and artistically to Macon County, Tuskegee University and HBCUs.

“By studying the works of and engaging with scholars knowledgeable about these pre-eminent authors who helped document the racial struggles of the 20th century, students will be able to understand and contextualize 21st century challenges in culture and society,” Ankumah noted.

In addition to course enhancements and faculty-student research, the project also will include workshops for teachers and outreach programs for the community. It will also lead to the creation of a sustainable digital humanities site to disseminate historical documents, teaching materials, and cultural artifacts. And, it will leverage the resources of the Tuskegee University Library System, which includes the university archives and museums, as well as its recently established Arthur Murray collection, “Beyond Category," which celebrates the work of the 1939 Tuskegee University graduate

Tuskegee’s grant represents the largest of three grants awarded to Alabama universities. It is one of 253 humanities grants totaling $14.8 million awarded by NEH in December 2018.

 “From cutting-edge digital projects to the painstaking practice of traditional scholarly research, these new NEH grants represent the humanities at its most vital and creative,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “These projects will shed new light on age-old questions, safeguard our cultural heritage, and expand educational opportunities in classrooms nationwide.”

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available online at

For more information about the recently awarded NEH grants, including a full list of grant recipients, visit

© 2019, Tuskegee University

Photo sources: Zora Neale Hurston official website, US Information Agency, Albert Murray official website