Sunday, 19 August 2012

Week 11: The END is near

This week at The HistoryMakers, we worked diligently on our special collections. We finished pulling the staples out and organizing the files for Diahann Carroll, John Rogers and Denyce Graves. Next week, we will be working on folder lists and finding aids for all of our special collections. I was supposed to present on Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum on Tuesday but we cancelled when we learned that Mr. Larry Earl was in the hospital. Mr. Earl had suffered a mild heart attack and Cara was very busy running the museum on her own on Tuesday. The news was unbelievable as I had just met and had lively conversation with Mr. Earl at The HistoryMakers reception in San Diego. Cara gave me some feedback on my presentation and we re-scheduled for Friday. I had some technical difficulties when the embedded video clip did not play during my presentation. I don’t think that a 13 page script was the best strategy for me. By the middle of the presentation I was adlibbing from the content of my slides. I received a lot of positive feedback but I know that I have better presentation skills than I displayed on Friday.  

Dr. Salvatore discussed exhibit planning and project management. After last week’s feedback session with Dr. Salvatore and Julieanna, this week was jam packed with information. I was grateful for the resources on exhibit planning. I plan to put them to use at Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum. At one point, I asked Dr. Salvatore if it was common for archivists to design complex exhibits that account for public safety and structural soundness. She said “absolutely”, most institutions cannot afford to pay people who curate exclusively. I’m surprised that my head has not grown this summer as I keep cramming more information into my brain. We all gave Dr. Salvatore our contact information and I hope that she stays in touch. While I was considering what to do professionally when I moved to Chicago, Dominican’s cultural heritage archival certificate program was a highly favored option of mine. I feel like I tapped all of the information from one of my potential professors and we are closer than I ever would have been to her in a class of 25 students. In this case, waiting served me very well.

Dr. Reed concluded his role as history professor with a page from the new book that he is writing. In the passage that he copied for everyone, he explains how materials found in the archives led to the conclusions discussed in his book. Dr. Reed also talked about hip hop movement and black studies programs in colleges and universities. He conceded that they last chapter in the textbook is very speculative but it did generate some discussion among us, especially on the topic of hip hop. My comments related to the dramatically different ways that we experience music from one generation to another. Hip hop may have its roots as rhythmic, spoken word reaction to the hegemony’s disdainful treatment of people in under-resourced Black communities in the late 70’s, but it has evolved. Through the internet, my 13 year old niece listens to underground South Korean rap which probably communicates some sort of protest to their living conditions. On the other hand, there is commercial hip hop that misappropriates the origins of the genre and perpetuates grotesque stereotypes about Black women and men. At the end of our time with Dr. Reed for this summer, I can say that I have a re-affirmed my framework for African American history. I would have liked to talk more about our personal experiences and understandings than just re-iterating what the authors of the textbook think.

Skyla and I had a chance to sit down with the new university archivist at George Washington University, Bergis Jules. Bergis was in the process of concluding his time with the Black Metropolis Research Consortium at The University of Chicago. We talked about potential career paths and the benefits of getting involved with SAA. Bergis sparked a light for me when he mentioned his plans to pursue an MBA in the near future. He believes that it will help him be better qualified for administrator positions in libraries and archives. When I thought about my desire to run my own archives consulting company, I imagined that an MBA would give me the tools to build the business from the ground up. The next step would be to find an organization that would help me pay for it. I know that a lot of other pieces would need to be in place before I began another graduate program but it is something for me to consider.      

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