Sources of Social Justice: The Floyd Covington Fellowship

Collections Convergence Initiative

A new faculty fellowship opportunity from the USC Libraries Collections Convergence Initiative

The USC Libraries are home to a significant and growing number of primary source collections on anti-racism, social justice, and allied topics such as civil and political protest and the histories of underrepresented communities, identities, and perspectives. These materials are housed within, to name but a few library collections, Southern California Regional History; East Asian Studies; Exile Studies; Latin-American and Iberian Studies; and the ONE Archives at USC Libraries.

The USC Libraries, in consultation with faculty partners participating in the Collections Convergence Initiative (CCI), seek to encourage and support the use of the materials within these collections in teaching and research projects. The need for these unique materials to gain wider attention, use, and analysis has never been greater. 

The USC Libraries CCI is pleased to announce this new faculty fellowship program focused on scrutiny of these materials and how they can be brought to bear in online and other teaching environments. Named for the long-time head of the Los Angeles Urban League, the Floyd Covington Fellowships also mark the recent arrival at USC Libraries of the papers of this important civil rights leader[1]

The four Covington Fellows will take up one of two tracks, with two fellowships awarded in each track.  Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $4,000. USC faculty across all ranks and title are encouraged to apply.

Application Process

Track One: Inventive Instruction Using Primary Sources. Applicants will propose revision of at least two USC courses (undergraduate or graduate courses or a combination) in close consultation with instructional colleagues in USC Libraries (including library faculty engaged with information literacy, instructional design, and primary source literacy) and/or the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study and its Ahmanson Lab to draw the USC Libraries’ digital sources, exercises, assessments, and other course activities into their courses. The revisions should speak directly to issues of anti-racism and protest in the United States context, both in content and sources made available for student learning and research. Applications should include faculty c.v., current syllabi to be revised, and a one-page cover letter describing the applicant’s general approach to revision. Applications should also include the name(s) and title(s) of the USC Libraries faculty members who will be consulted in regard to course/syllabi revisions. Track One applications are due December 1, 2020, and both awards will be made for the spring term 2021. 

Track Two: Primary Source Research. Applicants will propose a research project or projects for which dedicated work within USC Libraries collections pertaining to anti-racism or civil rights is critical.  Applications should include faculty c.v. and a one-page cover letter outlining the research project(s) to be undertaken and the specific sources or collections to be consulted. Track Two applications are due April 1, 2021, and both awards will be made for the summer 2021. If university and county health guidelines allow for some degree of physical access to the collections, preference will be given to those applicants who identify sources that require in-person consultation. CCI will make adjustments and further announcements regarding access as necessary.

Applicants are encouraged to be in contact with library colleagues for assistance in identifying likely collections and sources to be featured in their work.

Applications and questions may be referred to either of the Covington Fellowship Selection Committee Co-Chairs, Professor Nayan Shah ( or Professor Josh Kun (

The Covington Fellowship emerged from and is owing to discussions among CCI disciplinary faculty partners and library faculty, including Suzanne Noruschat, Michaela Ullmann, Josh Kun, and William Deverell.

[1] Floyd C. Covington (1901-1989) was a civic leader in Los Angeles' African American community from the late 1920s to the 1970s. Through his work as the first Executive Director of the Los Angeles Urban League and his service in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Covington redefined social welfare and equal opportunity in both employment and housing for various communities in Los Angeles. Covington's papers contain his early scholarship and poetry from his youth and education in Seattle, Washington and Topeka, Kansas; scrapbooks, photographs, posters, and reports from his leadership of the Los Angeles Urban League during the 1930s and 1940s; correspondence, speech drafts, and other writings documenting Covington's work in intergroup relations and equal opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; family mementos—including papers and photographs from Covington's wife, Alma Covington, and his father in law, Thomas Augustus Greene, Sr.; and lastly, correspondence, realia, and creative works documenting Covington's strong relationships with community associations, such as the YMCA in Los Angeles, and his passions for creative writing, music, and theater. The Covington papers document the history of Los Angeles' African American community in both the pre- and post-World War II periods. See also