The Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity mourns the loss of Angela Jenkins, longtime librarian of the African American Cultural Center Library and Media Room, who passed away on Saturday, October 19, 2019.
Jenkins arrived at NC State in 2014 with over twenty-five years of prior library experience. One of only three permanent librarians to hold the position in the twenty-eight year history of the center, Jenkins holds a special place as part of the legacy that created and cultivated NC State’s only library dedicated to readings and scholarship by and about scholars and subjects of the African Diaspora.
Immensely proud of its mission and holdings, Jenkins fulfilled not only the role of librarian but also that of ambassador, continually informing the campus community about the uniqueness of the facility and its collections. She enjoyed telling visitors about the many genres and unique items among the 7,000 volumes and additional media, and sought creative ways to bring new visitors to the space.
Those who knew the soft-spoken librarian recalled the depth and range of her knowledge and interests about a variety of subjects and her perceptiveness and kindness to all, including the many library interns who worked in the center and the Wake STEM Early College high school students who convened and studied in the library throughout the year.
Jenkins’ favorite quotes was, “Who the work reaches, who has access; democratizing access to information and knowledge is the primary responsibility of everyone who has access to African American history: community, writers, mentors and supporting organizations doing work in the front and in the back.” (Imani Perry)
To honor Jenkins, her work and her memory, the African American Cultural Center will strive to carry out this vision in the days, weeks and years ahead.
“Angela contributed greatly to the African American Cultural Center Library for many years, and always gave a healthy dose of support and caring along with her extensive knowledge to all those who came through the library. Her sweet soul and infectious smile will be missed on our team.” — Sheri Schwab, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity
“Angela was a wonderful person and I’ll miss her dearly. She was a fierce advocate of the library and worked hard to expand its resources and services. As a colleague, Angela was also insightful, funny and kind. Her passing is a tremendous loss to our community. We’ll honor her memory by upholding her values of knowledge and education, and keep them at the heart of the center’s work.” — Sachelle Ford, interim director, African American Cultural Center
“Angela lived the life that I pray to live, because I feel that everyone that encountered her friendship became a better person. She was so genuine and kind, and she saw the good in the world and how much better it could be. The one thing that I admired about her was her commitment to her profession. She had an impeccable work ethic, and she was passionate about her work and made it a joy. She did it wholeheartedly, enthusiastically and excellently. And she also loved birds, dogs, flowers, restaurants, museums, books, the arts and nature. She was really a Renaissance woman. She was wonderful to work with, always making the books relevant for students and connecting them to the center’s programming. I will miss all of our times together.” — Toni Thorpe, program director (retired), African American Cultural Center
“Angela truly exemplified librarianship. She valued literature and scholarship, and loved to help connect people with information. Not many people have Angela’s special combination of kindness and service — she always wanted to help students, faculty and staff to be successful. I will miss her gracious and gentle spirit.” — Marian Fragola, director of program planning and outreach, NC State Libraries
“Mrs. Angela, I will cherish our love of all things Prince. I will remember your smile when I hear “Little Red Corvette” or “Raspberry Beret.” You always shared kindness, and will be sorely missed.” — Nashia Whittenburg, director, Multicultural Student Affairs
“Angela understood the importance of communicating important stories, our stories. She was a strong champion of young people and loved to see them succeed. And she was a wonderful steward of all the resources and opportunities that came her way. In a crowded room, I always gravitated to her quiet wisdom.” — Elizabeth Snively, Communications, Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity
“Ms. Angela Jenkins was a sweet, kind and gentle spirit. As the first face many Wake STEM Early College students saw in the morning, she always greeted each student with a smile. I had the opportunity to work with Ms. Jenkins over the past two years, and she proved to be a great supporter and ally of the Early College Program. Her presence and smile will be sincerely missed.” — Amber McGregor, Wake STEM Early College High School liaison, NC State College of Education
“None of the research I have conducted over the last fourteen years on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Dorothy Cotton and Langston Hughes would have been possible without Ms. Angela Jenkins. Beyond consistently directing me to the books I needed, her wise smile and warm spirit gladdened students’ steps as they left her presence. Like them, I always found myself lingering for an extra moment to talk about something more — the artwork of Synthia Saint James or the latest happenings in Rocky Mount. Though many of us know this, it is long overdue to say it here: a university is only as good as its librarians. With a book from the African American Cultural Center’s library, you slowly learn what Langston Hughes spoke of in his poem “Theme for English B”: it is more than ink that gives the page its meaning. I am still quite honored to say that when an elegant canvas book bag came her way from the Academy of American Poets, Ms. Jenkins immediately gave to me because it had a quote from Langston Hughes imprinted in magenta on its side. I always felt that when a book was returned to her gentle hands, it was welcomed as a child who had spent too long away from home. — W. Jason Miller, professor of English, African American Cultural Center scholar-in-residence (2019-20), author of Langston Hughes and American Lynching Culture (2011), Origins of the Dream: Hughes’s Poetry and King’s Rhetoric (2015) and Langston Hughes: A Critical Biography (2020)
“I came to work at the library. I stayed for Mrs. Jenkins. I am so grateful to have been graced with her presence, grounded by her attitude and informed by her (methodical, typed up and printed out) research. Sharing time with her was truly a gift; I learned so much from her and always took pleasure in our conversations. There are few people whose opinion I value more, whose insight and recognition reach me more deeply. Knowing her was truly an honor and a blessing.” — Maryanne Peters, second-year anthropology major, AACC Library intern
“Mrs. Jenkins’ beautiful soul and kind spirit will forever be a part of her legacy. I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Jenkins for three years, and our friendship extended beyond my undergraduate years. If the world adopted her optimism, love and kindness it would be a better place. Although she was soft-spoken, those who knew her personally were aware of her quirkiness, her love of literature, Pennsylvania and most importantly, her dog Jake. I admired her continuous efforts to engage students in the world of reading books of the African diaspora. Mrs. Jenkins was the kindest soul I have ever encountered and I am eternally grateful our paths crossed at NC State University.” — Torisha Dozier, former AACC Library intern