Glynis Johns Embarks Black Scranton Project

by Jackson F. Feiner | Staff Writer

Following up with last week’s story about the students of Dr Levy’s HIST190 course, who are currently undertaking a monumental research project about the Black history of the university. I followed up with Glynis Johns, the founder/CEO of the Black Scranton Project, a non-profit organization and local heritage initiative dedicated to archiving and celebrating Black history and culture of the Scranton, PA region. 

Glynis has been involved in the project here at the university from the very beginning and is one of the core reasons this project was created. Black Scranton Project and Glynis have been closely working with the Department of Community Relations, alongside Julie Sumacher Cohen. She has also recently worked closely with the Black Student Union (BSU) and helped them become more established on campus. 

The University of Scranton has been a strong community supporter of the Black Scranton Project and a partner with Glynis in her work. Johns touched on the fact that many institutions are reluctant to uncover their ugly history and acknowledge their mistakes (past and present), but the University of Scranton has/is more than willing to rewrite their wrongs and discuss their mistakes. One of these wrongs being a “mock slave auction fundraiser” that used to be held at the university. But before anyone jumps to any conclusions, the university has been very noble in acknowledging their mistakes and wants to become a more inclusive campus for all.

Johns stated that “the legacy of the university pretty much mirrors Scranton in that, (the legacy) overlooks Black folks, Black students and anything that Black students were doing on that campus”. Glynis would go on to say that Black students were doing a lot on campus, and that this project will hopefully be able to provide recognition for those Black students who have been overlooked. Glynis also stated that through this project, the students of HIST190 have the opportunity to uncover alumni who have gone on to do great things, such as Dr Yohuru Williams (who recently spoke at the university). Johns said how this project can only benefit the university’s community and create a more diverse place for all. 

The HIST190 research project is a part of a massive initiative being taken on by the university that is a part of the NEH grant. The National Endowment for the Humanities grant is for a series of Humanities Discussions and related events for a project titled “Scranton’s Story, Our Nation’s Story” that will span from now through 2023.

Glynis will be a panelist at the “The Underground Railroad to Black Scranton”, which will be taking place in February 2023. But you can bet that she will continue to be involved on campus between now and then. 

I encourage people that are interested in the university’s history to check out the digital archives collection on the university’s library website. 

We will continue to cover the progress of the HIST190 University of Scranton’s Black history research project.