SPC’s Connections with the “Father of Black History”

February 8, 2019

Public Information Officer

THE LARGEST MUSEUM DEVOTED TO THE BLACK EXPERIENCE ON THE GREAT PLAINS FEATURES AN ALUMNA OF THE ST. PHILIP’S COLLEGE FACULTY EXPERIENCE, AND THE COUSIN OF THE ICON KNOWN AS THE“FATHER OF BLACK HISTORY

Remembering ZerNona Stewart Black (1912-2005)

The largest museum devoted to the black experience on the Great Plains features an African American educator and activist who was not only an alumna of the St. Philip’s College faculty experience, she was the cousin of the icon known as the“Father of Black History.” 

The featuring institution is the Great Plains Black History Museum in Omaha, Neb. The alumna educator with the legendary familial pedigree featured by the museum during 2019 National African American History Month is outstanding St. Philip’s College alumni faculty member ZerNona Stewart Black (1912-2005).

According to the museum’s online feature that also includes the legendary “Father of Black History” Dr. Carter G. Woodson, ZerNona Stewart Black “was an African-American educator and activist. She was living in New York when she accepted a three-month transfer in 1943 to the San Antonio YWCA-USO for Black Military, a group formed to help morale for African American service members and their families.”

Hundreds of service members Black influenced in the St. Philip’s College service area were among the students who contributed to St. Philip’s College’s record enrollment during the World War II era under the leadership of Saint and College President Emeritus Artemisia Bowden, and today SPC is one of the top three colleges selected by servicemembers in Military City U.S.A., as the nation’s seventh largest city has come to be known.

Black came to San Antonio and joined Bowden’s team as an alumna of Emerson College in Boston, “having taught communication, drama, speech, radio and physical education at Langston College in Oklahoma. She was the cousin of Carter G. Woodson. She taught Communications, Drama, Speech, Radio, and Physical Education at Langston University in Oklahoma,” as well as at St. Philip’s College, according to the museum report.

Black's real-time work at the nation's most westerly and southerly located historically Black college benefitted many and is of great annual interest to the museum’s audience. For the museum’s specialty is the epic movement of 6,000,000 African-Americans from America’s rural South region to Northeast, Midwest and West regions from 1916-1970---also known as the Great Northward Migration---which is part of the 2019 National African American History Month theme ofMigrations. 

Forward to 2016 through present, and in order to support the Military City USA community, the college reached out to partner with the USO business unit that helps service members, their care-givers and their family members in a critical 24-month period identified by the USO---12 months before discharge and 12 months after discharge from their military service commitments. The St. Philip’s College Good Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Transition Center teamhttp://alamo.edu/spc/VOTC/ has hosted USO Pathfinder Transition Program Newcomer's Orientation programs with both outreach and transition service since the partnership with the USO’s transition mission in the college’s service area began in 2016. CPS Energy has also hosted similar programs in various locales in the city. Feb. 8 of 2018 is the first anniversary of the first time the energy company’s event for the USO---themed CPS Energy Welcome USO Pathfinders---was held at the college.

According to the museum report, “In 1946 she and civil rights leader and Pastor Rev. Claude Black married, she continued teaching at St. Philip’s College. During the 1950's and 1960's, Ms. Black served alongside her husband in the civil rights activism... [ZerNona] Black died peacefully in her sleep two weeks short of her 59th wedding anniversary on January 24, 2005… The city of San Antonio has created the Rev. Claude and ZerNona Black Scholarship Endowment Fund.”

Learn more about the migration and success of St. Philip’s College faculty alumna ZerNona Stewart Black at the Feb. 7 Great Plains Black History Museum report On this day February 7th, in African American History, and navigate the museum web site from the hyperlink.