Charles Harris Wesley
Outstanding scholar, historian, author and educator. Wesley was a graduate of Fisk University and the Yale University graduate school. From 1914 to 1937, he served as an AME Church minister and elder. In 1918 Wesley became pastor at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. In 1916 he began a long association with Carter G. Woodson’s Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, serving as president from 1950 to 1965, and as executive director until 1972. In 1923, he was elected President, Graduate Chapter, Mu Lambda and organized the Beta-Mu Lambda Corporation. In 1925, Wesley earned a doctorate from Harvard, only the third awarded by Harvard to an African American.
During the course of his other achievements, Wesley served on the Howard University faculty from 1913 to 1942. In 1928, Wesley had received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Wilberforce University. In 1930, having been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, Wesley went to England to study emancipation in the British Empire. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, he a chapter in London in 1930. Wesley subsequently wrote “The History of Alpha Phi Alpha” in 1953. He also wrote many other articles and books on African American history, leaders and organizations, including “Negro Labor in the United States, 1850-1925” (1927), “Collapse of the Confederacy” (1937) and his last book, “The History of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs: A Legacy of Service” (1984).
Wesley became president of Wilberforce University from 1942 to 1947, during which time he improved the faculty, founded new programs (such as African Studies), and integrated the student body. In 1947, he became president of the College of Education and Industrial Arts of Central State College and served until 1965. Other awards he earned included a Phi Beta Kappa Key, the Scottish Rite Gold Medal Award of the United Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, Prince Hall Affiliation. In 1965 Wesley became Executive Director of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and was also responsible for all research and publications. He served until 1972 and then became Executive Director Emeritus. For these additional accomplishments he earned the Armistad Award. In his last major career endeavor, from 1974 to 1976, Wesley served as the director of Philadelphia’s Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum.
Prominent historian,minister,and the first President of Central State University