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Black History Change-Makers in Moscow: Black History Since the 1980s

This history was researched and compiled as part of the Black Research Institute for Flourishing & Thriving (BRIFT) project in partnership with the University of Idaho Black History Research Lab.

Dr. Lynda Freeman, Professor & Learning Specialist

Lynda Freeman

"Lynda Freeman, a clinical associate professor and academic skills specialist for the WWAMI Medical School at University of Idaho (Idaho WWAMI), has been named one of 50 people by the Idaho Business Review as a 2022 Women of the Year honoree. She is the first Black female, full-time faculty member at Idaho WWAMI.

“I strive to impact students, organizations and the community with compassion and excellence,” Freeman said. “I am so grateful to the Idaho Business Review for this award acknowledging my work and I hope it inspires more women — especially women of color — who want to pursue careers in public health and medical education."

Jun 29, 2022


John Crout

John Crout, African Free Inc.

"John [Crout] the driving force behind African Free Inc., a local nonprofit organization dedicated to introducing Black history and culture to the region in hope of educating a predominantly white population while attracting more Blacks as residents."

Personal problems complicate longtime goal EVERYONE HAS A STORY By David Johnson of the Tribune Sep 3, 2010


Dr. Sydney Freeman Jr., Professor

Sydney Freeman Jr.

"Tenure is a privilege given to faculty after rigorous evaluations and service to the university, Sydney said. The process is different at each institution.  


“And so that gives, in this context, it gives me the privilege to speak out on issues of race and racism in ways that maybe others may not feel as comfortable doing,” Sydney said."


Working for better support of the Black community in Moscow: Meet the Freemans, active faculty and activists for Black community members in Moscow by Emily Pearce 09.16.2020 (Updated: 09.21.2020)


Jessica Samuels

Dr. Jessica Samuels, Counselor

“As an African American woman that was raised in Orofino, Idaho, I took joy in relocating to Moscow, Idaho in 2004. When I was growing up, Moscow was always the only place I could see people that looked like me. Living in Moscow has allowed me to become a part of a small Black community. As one of the few Blacks raised in the area, I believe it is my duty to help represent and/or advocate for the Black community and others marginalized communities. Despite being a single mother of four, I have donated a significant amount of my free time serving on boards and committees for groups like the ACLU Board of Idaho, The Idaho Association of TRIO Professionals (IATP), the Northwest Association of Educational Opportunity Programs (NAEOP), the local HeadStart Parent Policy Council and more.  Moreover, my children and I have spent numerous hours knocking on doors for the Idaho Democratic Party and participating in small local demonstrations. I was even elected to serve as a Latah County Delegate to the 2008 Democratic convention. Which ironically may not have happened, without Senator Mike Crapo, as he sent me to the African American Leadership Summit in Washington, DC in 2007.  There I learned about President Obama. When I came back to Moscow I helped champion the local students for Obama Campaign, which led to my nomination, election, and ongoing affiliation with the Democratic Party.” 


Statement provided by Jessica Samuels  


Lionel Hampton, Musician

In 1984, Lionel Hampton and his band played at the University of Idaho's annual jazz festival. Hampton's commitment to education prompted the festival to be renamed the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in 1985, and a few years later in 1987, the UI School of Music became the Lionel Hampton School of Music. The jazz festival continues and the school of music still bears Hampton's name. Moreover, the University of Idaho houses the Lionel Hampton Jazz Collection and one of the world's largest jazz archival collections.


Black history in Moscow and Northern Idaho is still being written. The gap in documentation from the 1940s to the 1990s means that this is an ongoing project. As census data is released, newspapers digitized, and more research completed, this history continues to be a work in progress. 

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