Behind the Microphone

by Johnnette Johnson

Johnnette Johnson is a rising senior from Marksville, Louisiana majoring in American Studies and French. Though her journey with the Race & Racism Project only began this summer, she has been involved in racial justice and community work since her matriculation at UR. A peer mentor and UR Downtown ambassador, when she’s not on campus or with family she’s out enjoying nature. She hopes to continue doing the work of commemorative justice and collective healing.

It was nearing the end of June and I knew I needed to finalize a subject for my podcast. Having interviewed two football players, I thought about focusing on that, but I knew I had no real connection to the subject. I juggled with the idea of why there’s no Black Studies program or department, but that sounded like a lot of extra research. I also thought about doing something related to the need for safe spaces for students of color, but I felt I didn’t have the material. But after I sat in on Katina Moss’s interview, I immediately knew what my podcast would be about.

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This Week in the Archive: Is this campus creating space for student activism?

by Sabrina Garcia

Sabrina Garcia is a junior from, Waldwick, New Jersey double majoring in Leadership Studies and English and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). This is her first year working on the Race & Racism Project, on Team Archive. Sabrina is in the WILL* Program, works as a writing consultant, and is training to be a PSMA. She hopes to dedicate her career to social justice and believes in the mission of Race & Racism wholeheartedly.

On February 5, 1971, an article was published in The University of Richmond Collegian, titled “Recent Student Activism Cools as Puzzling Quiet Takes Hold.” This piece focuses on the ways in which Richmond students lost their drive and ambition to be persistent in their activism, as opposed to the flare of student activism that was seen the previous year in the wake of the Cambodian Crisis and the Kent State Shootings. There was student unrest throughout the United States during the year 1970, due to the involvement in the Vietnam War, and the Cambodian Crisis. This all led up to the violence seen at Kent State, as four students were killed during student protests by the Ohio State Guard. Students at the University of Richmond reacted to the national outrage, by organizing protests and rallies of their own, and voiced their dissent from President Nixon’s decision to continue bombing Cambodia.

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This Week in the Archive: In Response to Collegian Article “History is Not Restricted by Race or Gender”

by Meghna Melkote

Meghna Melkote is a rising sophomore from Scranton, Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science and Philosophy and minoring in Music. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project as a member of Team Archive. She is involved with the Mock Trial and Debate teams, performs in chamber music ensembles, is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, and is a content curator for public history platform bunkhistory.org

Throughout my research, I’ve found a lot of Collegian articles over whether or not to require Western Civilizations as a course. This article, written by staff editorialist Scott Shepard, is a response to a piece written by student Jennifer Rabold. Shepard’s main argument is that “history is not restricted by race or gender,” and that Western Civilization is everyone’s history. I’ve been doing research on the history of an integrated curriculum, and I’ve generally stayed away from inserting a strong opinion into what I find. However, it was this article that allowed me to form an argument as to why we need to engage different, non-Western perspectives in our academics. Rather than simply discuss what he says, I would like to take some time to directly refute Shepard’s argument in a manner relevant to my research project.

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Editing and Authenticity

by Cole Richard

Cole Richard is a junior from Orlando, Florida double majoring in English and Italian Studies and minoring in Linguistics. This is his first summer working on the Race & Racism project. He is also a resident assistant, DJ at the campus radio station, and student worker at the music library.

In reflecting on the entirety of the oral history process — from interviewing to creating a podcast — I’ve gained a better understanding of how to interview in order to get quality material. Interview material moves through a multitude of contexts. There’s a pretty big difference between the interview itself and the final product, the podcast. Although my podcast was created from the audio collected in an oral history, its shorter length and more polished production result in it having a larger audience. Because of this, material that may have been sufficient for the purposes of the interview and oral history wound up being not as well suited for the podcast.

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Don’t Sit in Your Complacency

by Shira Greer

Shira Greer is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia majoring in Political Science and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus she is also a Richmond Scholar, an Oliver Hill Scholar, a Peer Advisor and Mentor, and a member of the Executive Council for a Multicultural Space at the University.

Now that my work this summer on the project is done, I can reflect on the experience of being on Team Oral History. At the start of the summer, I was somewhat apprehensive about my choice to join Team Oral History as opposed to Team Archive. I questioned whether I would be good at interviewing and had no clue how I would learn to create a podcast considering my limited exposure to the medium. However, I now can see how much I’ve learned through my work this summer.

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This Week in the Archive: What Makes a Messenger?

by Gabby Kiser

Gabby Kiser is a junior from Williamsburg, Virginia majoring in English and minoring in History. This is her first summer with the Race & Racism Project. She is also the general manager of WDCE 90.1 FM, a design editor for The Messenger, and a Bunk content wrangler.

Over the years, the Messenger literary magazine has had its ups and downs on campus. Not only has it encountered numerous periods of disinterest from students; it’s regularly been the target of a great amount of criticism. A lot of this criticism has condemned the magazine’s lack of humor and, as one 1957 Collegian article put it, “nebulous stories and poetry.” In 1960, for example, Collegian columnist Edie Graves called the average Messengera total loss” and begged for a change. Still, when the magazine became the satirical Messenger Lampoon in 1977, a number of students were incensed that the campus would be without a literary magazine, even for just a year. One Collegian article from 1955, though, takes the cake as the strangest statement I’ve discovered of what the Messenger is and should be.

“Now You Know: Messenger Voices Thoughts” by Harold Gibson is framed as an explanation of a vague description of the Messenger found in Student Handbooks. Said description mentions the magazine’s “editorial policy of literary quality” as its defining characteristic. Gibson takes it upon himself, then, to explain what “literary quality” means by delving into an argument of what counts as literary realism and attacking work that “approaches the vulgar just for the sake of the vulgar.” The Messenger, he alleges, accepts none of this “pornographic trash.” And though he assures readers that the Messenger isn’t “high brow” and urges student participation, his article comes off as aggressive rather than welcoming.

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This Week in the Archive: Unionization and Unification

by Nathan Burns

Nathan Burns is a junior from Newtown, Pennsylvania double-majoring in French and Leadership Studies and minoring in English. This summer of 2019 marks Nathan’s first time working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus, Nathan is also a writing consultant and a member of the dining services student advisory committee.

In my research this summer documenting racism and segregation in dining services on campus, I wish I had the opportunity to focus more on racial dynamics between Food Service employees, administrators, and students. I find this subtopic of my larger research project and exhibit “Dining Discrimination at the University of Richmond” especially important since a majority of Food Service employees are Black and because the University of Richmond has been known to hire employees of color for these jobs as long as there have been dining halls on campus. Unfortunately, I was unable to include many items relating to Food Service employees in my final project exhibit because the exhibit focused instead on narratives of student experiences with segregation and their relationships with dining services. That said, I would like to dedicate this blog post to a few of the articles and correspondences I found in my research that indicate Food Service employees’ fight to be considered as professionals in their line of work. The dining hall workers deserve a place in this narrative of racism in dining services, and their voices should not go unheard in this discussion of dining hall discrimination.

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Tell and Listen

by Jenifer Yi

Jenifer Yi is a sophomore from Santa Clarita, California majoring in Biochemistry with a concentration in Neuroscience and a minor in Healthcare Studies. She has been involved with the Race & Racism Project since 2018 and hopes to diversify the conversation and inclusion of all students of color at the University of Richmond. On campus, she is a part of the leadership board for the Asian American Student Union. Through her contributions to the project, she wants to push for campus-wide racial awareness. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine while continuing to advocate and raise awareness for healthcare access for minorities.

Setting up recording equipment, not quite sure how high to raise the microphone; nervously re-reading your list of questions; waiting to talk to a person you have never seen in real life – this is what it is like to conduct an oral history. You do not know where the conversation will wander, even if you prepare a list of questions or have a direction in mind for the conversation. Looking back on my reflections on how I thought interviews would pan out, I have learned a lot since then. Previously, I had nothing but my imagination, the Collegian, and ancient yearbook pages to base my expectations on.

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Dinosaur Kingdom

by Joy Lim

Joy Lim is a Sophomore from Dallas, Texas majoring in Rhetoric/Communication Studies + Sociology and minoring in Anthropology. She is involved in the Westhampton College Government Association (WCGA), Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Delta Gamma (DG), Korean American Student Association (KASA), YouthLife, and is a mentor in the Peer Advisors and Mentors program (PAM). This is her first year working with the Race & Racism Project but she is interested in continuing this work in the future. She hopes to explore social justice issues not just on the University of Richmond campus but around the world as she continues her studies.

Dinosaur Kingdom was a site visit that took me by complete surprise. The initial shock came at the entrance of the park because it was located right off the side of the highway across the street from some type of zoo. Compared to the zoo, Dinosaur Kingdom had far less visitors and was surrounded by a large wooden fence that made it seem like a fortress of some kind. This fence obstructs everyone’s view to the inside and really leaves you wondering what could be behind such an interesting entrance. The park, in general, seemed rather empty and run-down right from the start, which allowed me to form an initial judgement about the site. Prior to visiting, all that I knew about the site was that it was related to the confederacy and somehow, dinosaurs were involved.

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