If you are on any of the Atlanta University Center campuses, you will probably know his name because a prominent promenade bearing his name runs right through the AUC (and right in front of the AUC Woodruff Library)! That’s right, it’s Dr. James P. Brawley, President of Clark College from 1941 to 1965. Photographs from the James P. Brawley Collection have been digitized, and are available in our Digital Commons. The photographs feature events from the life of Brawley, scenes around Clark College, and images used in his teachings. Born in Lockhart, Texas in 1895, his vast education includes Samuel Huston College, University of Southern California, and Northwestern University, culminating in receiving his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago. During his scholarship, he taught at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi before moving to Atlanta for a job as head of the Department of Education and Religious Education at Clark College. There, he moved up the ladder to succeed Dr. M. S. Davage as President.
As President of Clark College, Brawley oversaw the moving of the College to its current location near the other institutions of the Atlanta University Center. During his tenure as President, Brawley became a founding member of the United Negro College Fund, created a fundraising culture on campus, and saw several new buildings added to the campus. A few images in the collection are from a fundraiser featuring David W. Williams, an American attorney and judge. Williams was the first African-American federal judge west of the Mississippi, and known for overseeing 4,000 criminal cases that stemmed from the 1965 Watts riots. Also of note in the Collection are lantern slides of religious clergy, historical events and campus life, which Brawley most likely used in his classes. The images show his interest in Methodism and civil rights, reflecting current events of the time and his background in religious education.
In 1965, Brawley resigned and began his tenure as President Emeritus, serving as a fundraiser for the College. He also wrote the history of Clark College titled The Clark College Legacy: an Interpretive history of Relevant Education 1869-1975. The Clark College history was the second book written by Dr. Brawley, the first was titled Two Centuries of Methodist Concern: Bondage, Freedom and Education of Black People.
Outside of his work with Clark College, Brawley was an active member of the Methodist Church. He served on the President’s Council of the Methodist Board of Education as well as several boards, commissions and committees related to social action and concerns. Be sure to check out these historic images and we will be back soon with more collections! If you are interested in researching the papers of James P. Brawley, you can view the finding aid for more information. The Archives Research Center holds his history!