Lifting Every Voice: the Pellom McDaniels III 2020-2021 Tribute Series

Dr. Pellom McDaniels III

The Emory Libraries, campus, and community partners have launched a series of celebrations to honor the legacy of our colleague and friend, Dr. Pellom McDaniels III 06G 07PhD. He was a Renaissance man whose hard work, discipline, and talent are reflected in the roles and titles he held throughout his lifetime. He was an accomplished scholar, an author, an artist, a beloved professor, an Emory curator and a professional football player. And he was a valued personal friend to a tremendous cross-section of the Emory community.


Pellom McDaniels III Research Award Endowment in African American Collections

This fund will support awards for Emory students, faculty and staff, and visiting scholars to conduct research and undertake creative projects utilizing the Rose Library’s collections documenting African American history and culture. The work that results from these awards will continue Pellom’s efforts to document and celebrate African American lives, history and expression.


 “Lifting Every Voice: The Inspiration and Impact of Pellom McDaniels III” 


September 9, 2020, 2:00 PM

Remembrance film screening, Flash Here and There Like Falling Stars: The Life and Work of Dr. Pellom McDaniels III and Rosemary Magee Creativity Conversation featuring moderator Jennifer King and participants Randall Burkett, Clint Fluker, and Dwight Andrews.

Flash Here and There Like Falling Stars: The Life and Work of Dr. Pellom McDaniels III

The film Flash Here and There Like Falling Stars explores the life work of Dr. Pellom McDaniels III, whose capacious vision, integrity, activism, generosity, and fierce intellect touched thousands of lives. Dr. McDaniels, who passed suddenly in April 2020, served as the curator of African American collections at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University, where he also earned his Master’s and PhD. Dr. McDaniels was also an activist, scholar, author, artist, beloved professor, and former professional football player. His community outreach efforts brought the very contents of the archive he curated into the hands of children and their families, creating a living history. Speaking to this, Dr. McDaniels said, “It’s one thing for us to make research materials available for our students and faculty and outside researchers. It’s another thing to interpret documents, photographs, and ephemera in ways that inform a public that’s hungry for these kinds of experiences.” Flash Here and There Like Falling Stars bears testament, in Dr. McDaniels’ own words, to his legacy and the indelible mark he made on this world.

Lift Every Voice 2020 project

Lift Every Voice 2020 is a year-long public history project to illuminate the rich history of Reconstruction in order to deepen understandings of how African Americans envisioned citizenship for themselves and how they worked to bring these dreams to life. The project was originally conceived by the late Dr. Pellom McDaniels III, and began with his idea that Reconstruction was “a time of great possibility.”  The project has continued in the hopes that his vision will continue to spark conversations about this important period in history and its legacies today.

September 17, 2020: Constitution Day

On the day that commemorates the signing of the Constitution, the Lift Every Voice 2020 project is hosting a day-long exploration on Twitter of the Reconstruction-era Amendments that extended civil and legal protections to formerly enslaved people.

Join the conversation @EveryVoice2020 or create your own posts using the hashtags: #Constitution, #EmoryConstitutionDay, #LiftEveryVoice.

Fall, 2020

The Lift Every Voice Seminar Series is the culminating event for the Lift Every Voice 2020 project. Developed in partnership with Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Library, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, the James Weldon Johnson Institute, and the Office for Racial and Cultural Engagement, the seminar series focuses on the history of Reconstruction and its ongoing legacies in the present moment.  These seminars are open to the general public.

  • October 20, 12-1pm: Defining the Black Reconstruction Archive

    • “Defining the Black Reconstruction Archive” is the first of three panels that will explore the history and significance of Reconstruction.

      Panelists include Drs. Barbara Combs (Clark Atlanta University), Michelle Gordon (Emory University), Randall Burkett (Emory University, retired) and Nikki Brown (University of Kentucky). It will be moderated by Dr. Kimberly Wallace-Sanders (Emory University).

      Panelists will highlight the manner in which African American archives and Black print culture illuminate the African American experience and shape the stories that we tell. They will discuss such topics as the use of archival collections that shaped their research, and African American patriotism and activism. The program will last an hour, with the last 15 minutes reserved for questions. To register  

  • November: Legacies of Reconstruction

  • December: Reconstruction Activism

February 2021

In celebration of Pellom McDaniels’ birthday (Feb. 21) and Black History Month, a special event will be organized to include the launch of an online exhibit dedicated to Pellom McDaniels’ life and work.

Spring/Summer 2021

 Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives

The Center for Creativity and Arts at Emory University and visiting artist Charmaine Minniefield will honor Pellom McDaniels with a Ring Shout and Praise House on the Emory campus.

The Ring Shout is a traditional African-American worship and gathering practice whose origins in West African ritual and ceremony predate slavery  From its roots in West Africa, the Ring Shout was reborn during enslavement in the West in resistance to laws which prohibited those enslaved from gathering, except for worship, and forbid any form of cultural expression not in service to the enslavers, including drumming. These laws were imposed in an effort to systematically dismantle communication, and ultimately the community. In response, those enslaved created Praise Houses—small usually wooden structures used for worship throughout the Southeast. As an act of resistance, congregants would gather in a circle to stomp or shout (full body rhythmic movement) upon the wooden floors, ultimately creating a communal drum—secretly preserving their cultural rituals and collective prayers and traditions. These small hidden worship spaces were the first Black churches in the Western world. The Praise House will be the site of multimedia projection of images from the Rose Library’s Robert Langmuir Photographic Archive of 12,000 photographs documenting African American life, and spanning the 1840s-1970. Through this project, Minniefield explores evidence of the Ring Shout’s survival in contemporary dance, music, and spoken word as a testament to the resilience of a people.