NEW: A Book about Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community and the Old Eighth Ward

For Immediate Release

A New Book Celebrates Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Historic African American Community and the Old Eighth Ward!!!

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is proud to announce the release of One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920 edited by Calobe Jackson, Jr., Katie Wingert McArdle, David Pettegrew, and with a foreword by Lenwood Sloan. The book is a collaboration between the Commonwealth Monument Project and Digital Harrisburg Project as they celebrate a new monument in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania which commemorates the passing of the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments giving African Americans and women the right to vote.

The book tells the story of 100 individuals whose names will appear on the bronze pedestal of the Commonwealth Monument. Called “A Gathering at the Crossroads” this monument is dedicated to the capital city’s significant African American community and its historic struggle for the vote.  The names inscribed on the bronze pedestal represent a cross section of the activists who lived and worked in Harrisburg’s African American community and include freedom seekers, abolitionists, suffragists, policemen, masons, doctors, lawyers, poets, teachers, preachers, janitors, and business leaders, who shared a committed advocacy for freedom, equality, and justice.

One Hundred Voices marks the culmination of a fruitful partnership between the Commonwealth Monument Project, Messiah University, and local community partners. Some forty different authors contributed to the research and writing of the biographical cards in the book. These include educators, librarians, historians, descendants of the one hundred, and over thirty Messiah University students!

One Hundred Voices is one of the important components of the Commonwealth Monument Project. Lenwood Sloan, the executive director of that project, describes this work as “more than a monument but a movement of solidarity, scholarship, and fellowship. It becomes the first monument commemorating the 15th and 19th amendment and heralding the value of the vote to be placed on any capitol complex in the nation.”

David Pettegrew, a historian at Messiah University and coordinator of the Digital Harrisburg project, describes the work on the One Hundred Voices as “the culmination of a fruitful collaboration between community historians, educators, and students who have engaged in research of a subject of greatest relevance. It presents a window to Harrisburg’s historic African American community and an invitation to make your own discoveries about the resilient catalysts inspired through faith and conviction to fight for freedom and political equality, social and economic opportunity, and moral improvement.”

Katie Wingert McArdle, who co-edited the book with Pettegrew and Calobe Jackson Jr., observed “When we researchers paused to listen to these “one hundred voices,” we have heard echoes more powerful and beautiful than we could have possibly fathomed.”

Calobe Jackson Jr., historian of Harrisburg African American studies and lead editor, who worked to develop the initial list of names, noted: “Our One Hundred Voices book is a new start to sharing the history of Harrisburg.”

The Commonwealth Monument will be unveiled in an event attended by the governor of Pennsylvania, the mayor of Harrisburg, the president of Messiah University, state legislators, and other notable dignitaries on August 26, 2020.

For more on this book and the project, contact David Pettegrew (

The book is available as a free open-access download or as a low-cost paperback here:

For more on the Commonwealth Monument Project, go here:

For images of the Commonwealth Monuments see Commonwealth_Monument.jpg, Commonwealth_Monument_Detail_1.jpg, and Commonwealth_Monument_Detail_2.jpg

For more on Digital Harrisburg go here:

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