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Monday, March 12, 2012

Small to Serve on Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture

Dr. Clara SmallSALISBURY, MD---Dr. Clara Small, professor of history at Salisbury University, has been nominated to a four-year term on the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture.

Her service begins Sunday, July 1.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve on the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture for doing what I consider to be a labor of love,” she said. “To preserve the past by researching and teaching history to present and future generations is my passion, and I hope to inspire some of my students to become historians to do the same.”

Also a member of the Maryland Governor’s Commission to Study the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland, Small is well known in the community for her talks on African-American and women’s history, averaging about 90 each year at schools, churches, prisons, halfway houses and civic meetings. Last year, she earned the African-American Tourism Council of Maryland’s prestigious Harriet Ross Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award. She also was honored by the Maryland General Assembly during the 11th annual Harriet Ross Tubman Day of Remembrance in 2011.

Small is the author of an article, “Abolitionists, Free Blacks and Runaway Slaves: Surviving Slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore” in the book A History of African-Americans on Maryland’s and Delaware’s Eastern Shore, and two books: A Reality Check: Brief Biographies of African-Americans on Delmarva and, with the Rev. David Briddell, Men of Color, to Arms! Manumitted Slaves and Free Blacks From the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland Who Served in the Civil War.

In addition to her scholarly work, she has held a leadership role in a number of local organizations, including Pemberton Hall Manor, SU’s Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, and the Thomas E. Polk Sr. chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers. Through a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, she helped promote and sponsor the annual Buffalo Soldiers Summer Youth Workshop to educate area children.

At SU, Small has been a noteworthy professor both in and out of the classroom. She has served as an advisor to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the first African-American sorority on campus. She was the long-time advisor for SU’s Union of African-American Students and was a catalyst for establishing a student chapter of the NAACP.

She also organized the Maryland Gamma chapter of the Pi Gamma Mu honor society in the social sciences at SU, serving as its co-advisor since 1982. Nationally, she was named its chancellor of the northeastern region in 1991 and has been re-elected to the post every three years until 2011, when she became national second vice president. In 2005, the international organization honored her with its Faithful Service Award.

Beyond her service to the campus, Small has provided food and comfort to those in need. She coordinated efforts in the Salisbury community to send more than 140 boxes of relief supplies to victims of Hurricane Floyd in her native North Carolina, going beyond local collection to drive three vanloads of food, blankets, clothing and other needed items to the stricken area. She was the first person at SU to organize relief efforts for victims in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. At the local level, she continues to coordinate the collection of non-perishable goods for the Maryland Food Bank in Salisbury and other agencies.

Small is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the University System of Maryland’s highest faculty honor, the Board of Regents Award for Excellence, and the Community Foundation’s Frank H. Morris Humanitarian Award. She also has earned the Lower Eastern Shore Heritage Council’s Tee O’Conner Award for outstanding contributions to African-American heritage issues, as well as the Wicomico County Commission for Women’s Community Service Award and the SU Alumni Association’s Faculty Appreciation Award.

Currently, she is working with the National and Maryland park services to help establish the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park near the site of Tubman’s birthplace in Dorchester County, MD.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at

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