From Segregation to Black Lives Matter: An African American Oral History Symposium

I was honored to present about Oscar Mack for the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program’s From Segregation to Black Lives Matter: An African American Oral History Symposium. The first symposium connected to the African-American Oral History collection at UF, this gave me a chance to re-engage with the Oscar Mack story. Since 2013 I’ve been plugging away on this project. Like everything involving the African-American experience, this project spun out of my digital humanities practice. While at Rollins College, approached the school’s commitment to community engagement through a “Classroom as Platform” approach that put students to work on community history project with the intention of cataloging, preserving, and presenting these stories through digital means. These projects often involved enhancing the scant record of the local black experience through oral history project or document research. The Oscar Mack project began in this manner and evolved as the story continued beyond the initial course. While the process has been slow, it was greatly enhanced by my time as Julian Pleasant Fellow at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. I partnered with the SPOHP to conduct numerous oral histories in Central Florida. My goal then was to capture those stories and add them to their collection. I had hope to create a path for future research, but naturally my knowledge of the context of the context of these stories is crucial. In the case of Oscar Mack, I realize I can use my evolving podcasting skills to tell one version of the story. This presentation gave me a change to test the podcast format and get the ball rolling. At roughly seven minute, the segment was not long, but people seem to embrace it. I can’t imagine i’m going to make 45 min episodes, but a three act structure with 7 to 8 mins per act does seem like a good format.

Stay Tuned.

Rethinking the Podcast

I was lucky enough to present at the DH@MSU Colloquium Series my presentation on "Making History: Podcasts as Digital Humanities Projects" allowed me to sketch out the logic around building a more DH centric structure around the Reframing History podcast. My central point was to consider how a podcast could be structured to make the outcome more closely aligned with DH projects. This involved thinking about the sources, process, and presentation with a mind toward the standard associated with DH project. I examined Miriam Posner’s post on reviewing and understanding DH projects and looked at the Journal of American History digital review guideline to thinking about this problem. The result is a set of goals around building the new web home for Reframing History that include transcription, resource pages and links to supplemental material.

Building CEDAR: Hilary Green @MSU

As part of the my appointment I’m core faculty the Consortium for Critical Diversity in a Digital Age Research (CEDAR). This is an evolving conversation as we haven’t defined the mission (beyond the title), so there is an opportunity to stimulate conversation. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to bring Dr. Hilary Green (University of Alabama), who Hallowed Ground project explores the history of race at UA. Inviting her to MSU, which has a vibrant digital humanities community, provides a way to explore the intersection between black experience and DH. This focus, which aligns with my own DH work, opens the door to a broader conversation. Stay tuned.

Reclaiming History at Network Detroit

I presented at the 2018 Network Detroit conference at Wayne State University. This was my first presentation in the region and in truth talking about my Florida themed work seemed a little odd. Not because it was not good work, but because as I move into this new position at MSU, I am seeking to vision projects that are rooted in my Michigan context. As I think about my DH work, I’m looking at frameworks that examine ideological links between people of color that can cross borders and capture ideology that unite the circumstances facing African-Americans. On the other hand, this work forced me to think about the structure and practice I used. I’m thankful for the great feedback I got from the participants.

The What I did or Hidden Digital Labor Problem

The problem of digital labor in the humanities is a real one. I often talk to colleagues about the work it takes to make something that doesn't seem done. One way to manage that problem is to blog about what you do.  Since the humanities depend so heavily on the building on previous insights, the ability to cite ongoing work and ideas from colleagues through citing their blogs becomes crucial to document the labor they are putting into creating digital objects.  As I write the final report for Digital Literacy and Collaborative Learning Workshop I co-designed and co-led with Scot French, the need map out all we did on paper feels a little hollow. We did a lot, but the report can't capture it all.  On the surface, it was a straightforward exercise. Rollins is a part of the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS).  The ACS has a generous grants program that has helped me get several digital projects off the ground. The ACS-R1 grant was designed to encourage liberal arts faculty to create collaboration with research institution faculty.   For this ACS- R1 grant I worked with Scot French (UCF) to create a two-day Digital Literacy and Collaborative Learning (DLCL) workshop. The workshop was focused on developing a cross-institutional framework for promoting broadly collaborative, community-based undergraduate and graduate student research employing the tools and methods linked to digital humanities. We designed this workshop to expand faculty dialogue connected to community engagement and digital humanities. Of course, Rollins College has received national recognition for its ongoing commitment to community engagement, and the University of Central Florida (UCF) has a public history program and wider institutional mandate to engage with the Central Florida community.  The grant funded the workshop for faculty cohort from Rollins and UCF to explore the possible paths for digital tools and methods in and out of the classroom. As you can see below, we took advantage of digital platforms to keep track of our process.