By Maryam Tahseen
“UR Welcomes Class of 2000 – Diversity Increases” stated the front page article of the 5th September 1996 issue of the Collegian. This article discussed the great strides our university admissions department made in accepting a diverse student body, specifically African American students. From what one could gauge from this article, it seemed that campus diversity and minority student representation was increasing at the university.
by Joshua Kim
The beginning of my research was definitely very forward and shallow in terms of what I was looking for. When you join a project called “The Race & Racism Project” it’s easy to lose yourself in the obvious.
RACIST WORD RACIST WORD RACIST WORD RACIST WORD RACIST WORD RACIST WORD RACIST WO–
My initial search terms were all obvious. It was every racist term you could imagine: the N word, Chink, Gook, Injun, Redmen, etc. And these all led me to very obvious articles, pictures, columns, so and so forth. What it didn’t lead me to; however, were people. Real people.
by Dominique Harrington
The Indiana Public School (IPS) Crispus Attucks Museum, a museum which commemorates the first black high school in Indianapolis, was founded in 1998 to preserve the school’s rich history. Despite being next to the Crispus Attucks High School’s gym and auditorium, I never noticed that the museum was there. The museum is attached to the school, on its south side, closest to the sporting fields. Equipped with my phone to take pictures, a pen, and my notebook, I walked up to the door of the museum.
The exterior of the museum features this painting that places Crispus Attucks, with the “CA” at the top, with a grander narrative of African and African-American history as displayed through the African imagery present.
By Jennifer Munnings
One thing is for certain when digging through history, you never know what you’re going to find. When I came to the University of Richmond, I was conscious of the fact that I was attending a formerly Baptist university in the capital of the confederacy. But it’s different to know something than to see actual evidence of it. I was vaguely aware that UR was segregated for a long time, that blackface was performed regularly, and that what are now known as racial slurs, were used as everyday language. However, finding articles in The Collegian of students performing minstrel shows in places I am familiar with, hit home in a way I hadn’t expected. It has sparked a conflictual relationship between myself and the University, on one hand, I’d like to celebrate how far it has come and be grateful for the opportunities it has provided me. On the other hand however, I can’t help but dwell on the fact that the progress that has been made, is not enough.
By Benjamin Pomerantz
Today, on the top shelf of my bedroom closet in my childhood home in St. Louis, Missouri sit three stuffed animals that used to rest with me when I was younger: a piglet, a teddy bear, and a small bear that wore an even smaller NYU shirt. Like most children, I created names for my stuffed animals, and being the creative child that I was, I named my stuffed animals Piglet, Teddy Bear, and New Yorkie, respectively. (So original, right?!) I was also the kid whose favorite shape was a square, so the fact that I assigned those names to my animals shouldn’t come as a surprise. But the point that I want to get at is that I named my stuffed animals. Most kids do, albeit with more creative names. Children give names to their stuffed animals because to them, their stuffed animals are important to them. Parents give names to their children for the same reason—because they value their kids. We, as humans, use naming as a way to assign importance to people, pets, and even stuffed animals.
By Vishwesh Mehta
I started working with the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project as a junior during my second semester. Initially, I decided to this research for solely selfish academic reasons. Having spent most of my life in India I knew little about the history of the country. Even though I had taken a course on American History it felt like I only got an overview of the complicated history. When I transferred to the University of Richmond I knew I was moving into a city which was the former capital of the Confederacy with a very dark history of involvement in the slave trade. However, I did not expect the University, being a place of intellect and acceptance, to have a track record of blatant racism. When I started my research last Spring I was taking a shot in the dark because this was one of my first ever research experience and I did not know what to expect from the project. However, as the weeks went by and I began looking at University publications and communications, I found a a holistic view of the race relations on campus. For most of my research I have used the online archives of The Collegian, a student run newspaper provides a ground level perspective of the conversations and incidents happening on campus when it came to race.
by Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart
What is it like to be part of the losing side? For the German nation, for instance, it means conciliating with its problematic past and honoring those that were hurt by their actions in the wake of WWII. However, in other communities, like Richmond, having a controversial history still presents a challenge, which in most cases leads to defensiveness and denial. In particular, this inquiry guided me throughout the exhibit of the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar during my visit on Wednesday, June 21. In a chronologically organized presentation, the institution displayed the evolution of the Civil War, giving a particular emphasis to the significance and strategic use of slavery throughout the process. Still, the overarching theme displayed a rather interesting comparison between the North and the South, emphasizing non-apparent similarities between both sides of the dispute.
By Karissa Lim
The Philadelphia History Museum is a two-level city history museum, claiming to be “your gateway into Philadelphia’s past!”. It has a daunting task before it: telling the history of the city of Philadelphia. The museum uses its exhibits to proudly show us where the city has been and question where it will go. Though its story was one of Philadelphian pride, the museum did not shy away from acknowledging tensions, such as those between races and citizens and government. The exhibit on preserving historic sites in Philadelphia, “Saved! Preserving Old Philadelphia: 85 Years of The Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks,” used unique storytelling and interactive methods to describe the challenges in preserving Philadelphia’s history.
By Hunter Moyler
As I’ve been working with Untold RVA and Free Egunfemi this summer, two of the aspects of Richmond history I’ve been tasked with finding and recording is that of Black resistance to adverse power structures and self-determination.
“Self-determination,” as you might deduce, refers to a person’s ability to determine their own fate and the steps they take in order to overcome the adversity that may prevent them from doing so. “Resistance” is similar. It denotes the avenues by which marginalized groups challenge the unjust social order of their day. I’ve found that in the era of slavery, which most of my research has centered around, a plethora of the deliberate acts of self-determination and resistance included radical, often violent, subversions of laws, laws created to fence-off African Americans from achieving anything approaching equity with their European contemporaries.
And when I say violent, I mean it. Look no further Angela Barnett, a free Black woman who lived in Richmond in the late eighteenth century, who killed a man who broke into her house under the suspicion that she was harboring an escaped enslaved man. (Sidbury, Ploughsares into Swords, 4) Or, take Martha Morriset, an enslaved woman who, along with others living on Chesterfield County plantation, murdered her so-called “mistress” after she tried to “correct” her and then chopped up her body and tossed the remains in the James. (Sidbury, 220 – 221) And, of course, I’d be tragically remiss not to mention that General Gabriel, as part of his unfructified plan to establish a free Virginia, intended to kill all Whites “except Quakers, Methodists, and French people” (Amateau, Come August, Come Freedom, 220) until Governor Monroe assented to the soldiers’ demands for emancipation for all of the Old Dominion’s Black population.
The actions of these people were certainly bold moves to take their lives into their own hands and subvert their oppressors, and of course these ought to be recorded and remembered. Each time I read about the enslaved retaliating against their captors, I take note of it. But such reading has placed a smorgasbord of food for thought in front of me, and I’m beginning to feel a smidge bloated.
By Maryam Tahseen
I remember delving into archiving in my second week of research with no idea as to what I would find. Just like any detective, I decided to understand the background of my case before I investigated further into the details. I started my investigation by going through Collegian articles from 1914 to 1975. As I went through newspaper articles from the Collegian, I started identifying the various themes that existed during different timeframes. I found out that 1950s was a time of immense support for the Confederate cause while 1960s revolved around discussions of integration of the university. As I moved into the 1970s, I realized that it was a decade of changes and activism.