A Flashman flashback for Black History Month

Gayle Anderson

In the accompanying photo, Dave Winfield, the Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer who was born and raised in St. Paul, signs copies of two of his books donated to the Givens Collection at his alma mater under the watchful eyes of (l-r) Phebe Givens, widow of the late Archie Givens, Sr.; the late Arline Winfield, David’s mother; Steve Winfield, David’s brother; and Archie Givens, Jr.

A noted author and lecturer, Winfield’s autobiography, Winfield: A Player’s Life, was a New York Times best-seller. His drug education book, TURN IT AROUND! There’s No Room Here for Drugs, became an international, bilingual program targeting children 8-12.

The Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature is housed in the University of Minnesota’s Wilson Library, 309 19th Ave. So. in Minneapolis. The collection contains over 10,000 books, magazines and other written material in the form of short stories, novels, poetry, plays, photographs and biographies about and on the Black experience in America, with particular emphasis on the Harlem Renaissance. It includes the Penumbra Theatre Company Archives.

(Photo by “Flashman” Gayle Anderson)

More information on the history and content of the Givens Collection can be found at www.lib.umn.edu/givens. The website describes the beginning of the Collection as a purchase from a New York private collector under the leadership of its founding curator, Dr. John S. Wright, a university professor of English and African American and African studies; the Givens family; and an 11-member Patron’s Council of leaders in the Twin Cities African American community.

The collection was purchased in 1985 and renamed in honor of Archie Givens, Sr. in 1986. The council included Steven and Sharon Belton, Nathaniel and Victoria Davis, Fred and Earline Estes, Richard and April Estes, Fred and Toni Green, Beckwith and Gwendolyn Horton, Delbert and Marjorie Johnson, William and Faye Johnson, Ezell and Kim Jones, Cornell and Wenda Moore, William and Alice Stubblefield, Phebe Mae Givens, Roxanne Givens, Carol Meshbesher and Archie Givens, Jr.

This project is a photographic exhibition with written commentary selected from the accumulated works of one of St. Paul Rondo’s adopted sons, Gayle “Flashman” Anderson. Spanning the years 1977 to the present with an emphasis on life in the close of the last century, it chronicles events, people and life through photos and stories. During the coming months, as part of a grant from the organization “Roots of Rondo,” excerpts from his project and exhibit will appear in the MSR.