Associate Professor Dr. Stutman and the Toni Morrison Society Dedicate the Latest Bench by the Road to Prairie View A&M University

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Prairie View A&M Bench by the Road
Dr. Stutman with members of the Toni Morrison Society and Prairie View A&M University at the Bench by the Road Ceremony

Dr. Craig Stutman, associate professor of history and public policy at Delaware Valley University, and Chair of the Toni Morrison Society, recently helped dedicate the latest “Bench by the Road” to this year’s recipient, Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU).

On Tuesday, March 19th, Stutman and other constituents gathered at PVAMU to unveil the 33rd edition of the Bench by the Road. This year’s bench stands in honor of the University’s founders, Matthew Gaines and William H. Holland, who served as Texas State legislators during the Reconstruction Era and established the Alta Vista Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas for Colored Youth in 1876, which became PVAMU. The ceremonial event was also part of a week-long celebration of the inauguration of Dr. Tomika LaGrande who was named the ninth president of Prairie View A&M.

“It was an amazing event. Prairie View A&M joins Jackson State, Clark-Atlanta, Howard University and Lincoln University as the fifth HBCU to receive a Bench by the Road,” said Stutman. “Overall, the project has honored 33 sites over the past 17 years, as we have recognized individuals, events, and places that hold a prominent place in African American historical memory.”

The Toni Morrison Society, founded in 1993, is an author society a part of the American Literature Association founded in honor of Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison.  The organization has dedicated 33 benches and historic plaques that are placed throughout the world to highlight important stories from African and African American history.

The Bench by the Road Project serves as a memorial, history, and community outreach endeavor. Launched on February 18, 2006, in honor of Toni Morrison’s 75th birthday, the project takes its name from Morrison’s poignant remarks during her acceptance speech of the 1988 Frederic G. Melcher Book Award for her novel Beloved.

The impact of the benches expands beyond the university and college campuses they reside on as they spark conversations across their local community and beyond. “I try to bring the bench stories back into my classroom as they illustrate important historical moments that can be incorporated into any American history class,” Stutman added.

Prairie View A&M University is the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state of Texas. It is a historically black college/university that, since its inception in 1876, has opened its doors to any and every person – inside and outside of Texas – seeking a first-class, four-year university experience.

For more information on the Bench by the Road Project, and the new bench at PVAMU, please visit