"Black Spartans (1907-1948)" represents ongoing research in San José State University Special Collections & Archives identifying documentation of Black experiences throughout SJSU history.
Much of the information we have comes from the Spartan Daily student newspaper and the La Torre yearbooks. With too few exceptions, Black Spartans’ stories are not told in their own words but from the perspectives of their majority white classmates. This is reflected in the language and focus of the articles. We invite you to read critically.
The 19 Black Spartans featured in this exhibit pursued their educational goals while contending with institutionalized racism and other major crises of the 20th century: two World Wars, the influenza pandemic of 1918, and polio. Locally, “the deed to virtually every home in San Jose” included restrictions against Black and Asian residents known as “restrictive covenants” (Spartan Daily, February 16, 1948, page 2). On campus, blackface and minstrel shows were a regular part of student events.
"Black Spartans (1907-1948)" is an invitation to the community to join us in surfacing these stories, ensuring these histories are preserved and presented in a way that honors these students’ lives.
The San Jose Public Library will house three (3) separate portions of the Black Spartans Exhibit (1907-1948).
The Dr. Roberto Cruz Alum Rock Branch Library, the Rose Garden Branch Library, and the Joyce Ellington Branch Library will house this unique and exquisite art exhibit. Upon your first visit to one of these three (3) exhibits, you will receive an SJPL Black Spartans Exhibit "Passport." Upon completion of this passport (by visiting all three (3) aforementioned library branches and receiving passport stamps) you will receive a prize and be entered into a gift card raffle! So visit those exhibits, get that passport, get those stamps, and win great prizes!
To request an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act for library-sponsored events, please call 408-808-2000 or email Accessibility@sjlibrary.org at least three business days prior to the event.