NORRISTOWN, Pa. – As we near the end of Black History Month, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04), alongside Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) and Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-03), introduced a bill to designate the Norristown post office as the Charles L. Blockson Post Office. Located at 28 E. Airy Street, the post office would honor the late Charles Blockson, prolific writer, collector, scholar, and activist, who dedicated his life to the preservation of African American history.

Born in 1933 in Norristown, Charles Blockson graduated from Norristown Area School District where he excelled as a student and athlete. At an early age, he cultivated his love of books and later built a career of traveling and acquiring rare documents, publications, and photos to explore and expand African American studies. Blockson curated one of the largest and most prestigious collections of African Americans artifacts; he donated his life’s work to Temple University’s Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection and the Pennsylvania State University's Charles L. Blockson Collection of African-Americana and the African Diaspora.

“Charles Blockson’s invaluable work of searching for, collecting, and, perhaps most impressively, selflessly sharing his premiere collection of African American artifacts has shaped our knowledge and understanding of African American history — renaming the Norristown post office is a tangible way we can honor his vast contributions right here in his hometown,” Rep. Dean said. “I’m deeply grateful to work with Noelle and the Blockson family on such a special project and for my colleagues, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and Congressman Dwight Evans for their leadership. Through his fierce commitment to bringing history to life, Mr. Blockson became a giant in history himself.” 

“I’m proud to join Reps. Dean and Evans in honoring Mr. Charles L. Blockson, the Norristown native who amassed our nation’s most prestigious collection of African American artifacts,” Rep. Scanlon said. “Blockson’s lifelong dedication to collecting and disseminating stories of African American history leaves behind a legacy not just for Temple students and faculty – but for the Philadelphia community and beyond. I’m grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to his contribution here in PA-05 by designating the Norristown post office in his hometown as the Charles L. Blockson Post Office.”

“I’m pleased to co-sponsor Congresswoman Dean’s bill to name a post office after Charles L. Blockson. This would be a fitting tribute to someone who left a huge legacy and did so much to advance knowledge of Black history, both in the Philadelphia area and nationwide” Rep. Evans said.

Charles Blockson co-founded the African American Museum in Philadelphia in 1976. He was also a founding member of the Pennsylvania Black History Committee of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, past president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, and former chairman of the National Park Service Underground Railroad Advisory Committee, among other leadership roles.

“The Blockson family is deeply moved and honored to have this  lasting dedication in his hometown … he had his P.O.B. at this postal  location for several years,” the Blockson family said.

He authored 13 books, including the seminal Black Genealogy with Ron Fry, and contributed to several publications. Regarded as the foremost expert on the Underground Railroad, Blockson wrote the first African American cover story for National Geographic — the July 1984 issue’s “Escape from Slavery: Underground Railroad.” — and his 1987 book, “The Underground Railroad,” is widely regarded as his most significant work.

Charles Blockson passed away on June 14, 2023, leaving behind an immense legacy.

Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.