Park University’s Black History Month Lecture Series event to focus on John Brown, the Underground Railroad

Spencer Crew, Ph.D., will be the keynote speaker in Park University’s 12th annual Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture Series program on Monday, Feb. 25. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the McCoy Meetin’ House on the University’s Parkville Campus starting at 7 p.m.

Crew, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American, African-American and Public History at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., will present his lecture on “John Brown and the Underground Railroad.” Over the years, his primary area of research interest has been in African-American history, and he has created exhibitions and written on both the Underground Railroad and the migration of African-Americans to the North during and after World War I.

Crew has worked in public history institutions for more than 25 years. He served as president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for six years and worked at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History for 20 years, nine years of which he served as director. In addition, he has served as chair of the National Council for History Education and serves on the board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the nominating board of the Organization of American Historians.

The most important exhibit he curated at the NMAH was the groundbreaking “Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration, 1915-40,” which generated a national discussion about migration, race and creating historical exhibitions. He also co-curated “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden,” which is one of the Smithsonian’s most popular exhibits. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has attracted worldwide attention because of the quality of its presentations and focus on race, inter-racial cooperation and issues of contemporary slavery.

Crew’s work in the areas of African-American history and public history has been published extensively. They include: Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration 1915-1940 (1987) and Black Life in Secondary Cities: A Comparative Analysis of the Black Communities of Camden and Elizabeth, N.J. 1860-1920 (1993). In addition, he co-authored The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden (2002) and Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2002). Crew earned doctorate and master’s degrees from Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University. In 2003, he was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

The Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture Series is named for Spencer Cave, who was born a slave at the start of the Civil War, later moved to Parkville in 1875 (the year Park University was founded) and worked for the University for more than 70 years before his death in 1947. The series is sponsored by Park’s Zeta Omicron chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.

For more information about the event, contact Timothy Westcott, Ph.D., associate professor of history, at or (816) 584-6364, or visit

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