Uncovering History at the Library Company of Philadelphia

My name is Canaan Kennedy and I am a rising senior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. I’m majoring in African American Studies and have a minor in History. I have always been interested in the African American experience coming from a mixed race background. I have explored race in many ways, such as publishing my first book titled Struggles to Victory over Racism in America. My book delves into the black side of my family’s difficulties with being black in America and it chronicles how they overcame adversity to achieve their dreams.

I applied for this internship under the guidance of Dr. Dickinson, a former professor of mine and coordinator of the Mellon Scholar Program. I give all my gratitude to Dr. Dickinson for his recommendation for this fantastic opportunity to read and conduct research at the oldest collections library in the country. It brings me great joy followed by appreciation when I get the chance to explore original texts from the 18th and 19th century.

My current goals for the future include applying for graduate schools for Masters and PhD programs in both History and African American Studies. I hope for a future where I can teach and educate students at the collegiate level as a professor. In addition to this, I have an interest in writing for television and film as I work on a teleplay that intertwines race, history and the quest for a world where the color of one’s skin doesn’t define one’s standing in life.

My time at the Library Company has been an excellent experience as I have been doing research on early African American abolitionists ranging from the late 1700s to the early 1800s. My research project for this internship stems out of my curiosity about why African Americans didn’t become free in this country until after the Civil War. During and after the American Revolution many blacks felt that there was a possibility of freedom for all people as it stated in the Declaration of Independence but as we know, this didn’t happen. After deliberation, I decided that I wanted to know what the specific language was of African American leaders and abolitionists at the time and ultimately why their efforts weren’t successful in achieving freedom and liberty for people of African descent.

Lastly, I want to thank the Library Company of Philadelphia, Dr. Michael Dickinson and Jasmine Smith for their outstanding mentorship of myself and my fellow interns.

Canaan Kennedy
Mellon Internship Program