Charles Blockson awarded prestigious Philadelphia Award

April 5, 2017 GMT

For his lifelong personal mission to document African-African history in Philadelphia and around the country, Charles Blockson will receive the Philadelphia Award for 2016.

Blockson, a historian, scholar and author, will be presented with the prestigious award during a ceremony on May 25 at Temple University, the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Award announced on Tuesday.

“I am incredibly humbled by this recognition, and thank the trustees for recognizing the value of preserving the record of people of African descent,” said Blockson in a statement. “It has been a long journey from my days as a track and field athlete at Norristown High School, to the football field at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, and lecturing at universities around the globe — and I am honored to know that my work has made a mark on the community right here in Philadelphia.”

Blockson has donated his personal collection of books and artifacts to the Temple University’s Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, which is home to over 500,000 books, photographs and documents. Additionally, Blockson is co-founder of the city’s African American Museum and he has bestowed other historical items to Pennsylvania State University and the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Institute.

Created in 1921 by Editor Edward Bok, the Philadelphia Award is given annually to a citizen of the Philadelphia region who in the preceding year has acted and served in the best interests of the community.

David L. Cohen, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Award and senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer for Comcast Corporation, said in a statement that Blockson “is one of those rares souls who has put all of his energies into understanding and celebrating every triumph and travail of African-American history, so that future generations of fourth-graders may never be left wondering where they came from.”

Added Cohen, “His life work truly embodies the mission of the Philadelphia Award, and fellow members of our community are fortunate to have access to his impressive collection right here at Temple University.”