Melvin B. Tolson Black Heritage Center
Established in 1970, the Melvin B. Tolson Black Heritage Center houses a collection of over 7,000 volumes, black newspapers and periodicals. It also holds a number of African artifacts. Focusing on the African-American experience in America and abroad, the center acquires materials for the benefit of the students and faculty of Langston University and scholars everywhere. The center is also the national repository for the National Association for the Study and Performance of African and African American Music (NASPAAM).
The namesake of the Black Heritage Center, Melvin Beaunorus Tolson, was an accomplished and innovative educator, poet and politician in Oklahoma and Texas. Educated at Fisk University, Lincoln University and later Columbia University in New York, Tolson came to Langston University in 1947 where he taught drama and English until his retirement in 1965. While in Langston, he served three terms as mayor. He also had a vibrant career in Texas, teaching debate at Wiley College, and his work there was the subject of the 2007 film "The Great Debaters." Tolson cultivated a reputation as a person committed to education and personal enrichment as well as a passionate and dignified opposition to violations of human rights. The Black Heritage Center is a fitting tribute to his legacy.