A Final Reflection

by Ayele d’Almeida

Ayele d’Almeida is a Political Science and Leadership double-major from Bloomington, Minnesota. Her work at Common Ground, the University of Richmond’s social justice initiative informed her decision to pursue the Race & Racism Project as a summer fellow. She hopes that through her fellowship and continued connection with the project, she will learn more about the University of Richmond. Ayele believes that the Race & Racism Project will also help later in life – as the project forces her to question institutions she may benefits from. She hoped to focus her research on black faculty and the presence of black students in white-dominated clubs and spaces.

Phi Beta Sigma, 1983, featuring oral history interviewee Stan Jones.

My second blog post this summer focused largely on questions of social spaces. I wanted to look at whether or not the absence of adequate and inclusive spaces forced black students to seek options outside of the University of Richmond campus. From what I have gathered from my oral history interviews with black alums, many black students went home to spend time with their families on the weekends.  Social events consisted of small gatherings in the basement of Thomas Hall, a residence hall on campus. When Phi Beta Sigma, the University’s first black fraternity came to campus, social events were hosted by the fraternity in conjunction with the Student Organization for Black Awareness (SOBA).

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Hearing Sentiments From Black Alumni that Still Resonate

by Rena Xiao

Rena Xiao is a rising junior from New York City who has spent the majority of her life living abroad in Beijing, China. She is a Double Major in Geography and Global Studies with a Concentration in World Politics and Diplomacy, and a minor in WGSS.

Rena Xiao and Eden Wolfer during their phone interview with Dr. Jesse Moore.

Uncovering the narratives of black alumni who attended the University of Richmond, a predominately white school, in the mid to late 20th century, I expected to hear brazen, explicit incidents of racism and discrimination. The University is geographically located in a state that struggles to move past its history. The Richmond City landscape is dotted with tributes to figures such as Robert E.Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Digging through the archives I did find many instances of racist language and Confederate imagery that were despicable but not shocking. However, in the process of collecting oral histories, many black alumni did not share experiences of explicit or violent acts borne out of hatred. Rather a common theme within many of the oral histories were stories of social marginalisation. Black students on campus during the 1970s and 80s felt ignored by the dominant, white population and were isolated from regular social life. These small daily acts of exclusion left a deep impact on these students and shaped their past and current relationship with the University of Richmond.

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This Week in the Archive: White Fragility

by Tucker Shelley

Tucker Shelley is a rising senior at UR from Burlington, Vermont. He is a member of the Theta Chi fraternity on campus. In his free time, Tucker prefers staying active and listening to good music. This is his first summer working on the Race & Racism Project and will continue similar work next semester for Dr. Maurantonio in the “Digital Memory and the Archive” course.

Throughout my journey through old Collegian articles, I’ve seen all kinds of articles. Some leave me scratching my head, while others just get my blood boiling. The article I am expressing my opinion on falls under the latter group. The article in question is titled “MSU’s name change misdirected.” It was written by a white Richmond college student and Collegian contributing editor by the name of Scott Shepard in the year 1993.

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I’m a Nervous Wreck but I’m Proud of Myself

by Eden Wolfer

Eden Wolfer is a rising junior from Wilmington, Delaware. She is majoring in sociology and minoring in education. This is her first summer working for the Race & Racism Project and she is excited to learn from this experience.

The first interview that I ran the audio technology for was Team Oral History’s practice interview with Ms. Robin Mundle and Ms. Iria Jones. I forgot to hit record for over half of the interview. I was assured that it was okay, that’s why we have practice runs, that it was my first time. It’s been over a month and I’m still embarrassed.

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This Week in the Archive: UR Alumni Outrage over Lecturer Dick Gregory

by Kristi Mukk

Kristi Mukk is a rising senior from Mililani, Hawaii. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Communications and minoring in English. She is a dancer and communications director for Ngoma African Dance Company. This is her first time working for the Race & Racism Project as a Summer Fellow, and she is excited to continue her work in the course Digital Memory & the Archive in Fall 2018.

The following blog post contains some contentious language. Please consider the intent of its use as you read on.

Archival work sometimes requires you to act like a detective by following a series of artifacts and connecting all the dots in order to uncover a story. My first archival detective journey started with a full-page photo of a black man I found in The Web 1971 yearbook. During this time, it was quite rare to find minorities represented in the yearbooks, let alone have a dedicated full-page photograph. The speaker’s name was not mentioned in the caption of the photo, so I emailed our Project Archivist, Irina Rogova, to see if she could identify the man. She informed me that he was Dick Gregory, a black comedian, author, actor, activist, and civil rights leader who came to speak on campus in December 1970 as part of a lecture series. This sparked my interest, so I decided to look through the Collegian newspaper archives to find more background and context.

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Outright Confusion: My Afternoon at the Museum of the Confederacy

by Rena Xiao

Rena Xiao is a rising junior from New York City who has spent the majority of her life living abroad in Beijing, China. She is a Double Major in Geography and Global Studies with a Concentration in World Politics and Diplomacy, and a minor in WGSS.

If you did not attend school in the United States, you most likely have not learned much about the Civil War. Everything I know about American history mostly starts around World War I. For a U.S citizen, I know embarrassingly little history about the county I am from. I attend school in Richmond, Virginia, a city where perhaps some of the most notable events that have shaped America occurred in this city. From Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech at St. John’s church in 1741 to being the capital of the confederacy, every corner of the city is packed full with historic events. My international school curriculum did not touch upon the founding of the country or the war that would divide it in two. I entered the American Civil War Museum as a novice, eager to learn with the knowledge base equivalent of a foreigner or international tourist.

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Southern Hospitality

by Tucker Shelley

Tucker Shelley is a rising senior at UR from Burlington, Vermont. He is a member of the Theta Chi fraternity on campus. In his free time, Tucker prefers staying active and listening to good music. This is his first summer working on the Race & Racism Project and will continue similar work next semester for Dr. Maurantonio in the “Digital Memory and the Archive” course.

In early July, I took a trip to the Tuckahoe Plantation in Richmond, Virginia. A quick drive from the University of Richmond, the plantation is just down River Road, strategically placed near the banks of the James River. The house was originally built by the Randolphs, a wealthy, large family that was widely respected throughout Virginia in the 1700s. Coming into the tour, I was under the impression that this was a plantation owned by Thomas Jefferson and his family. I have often heard it referred to as the Jefferson plantation and on the website they advertise it as “the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson.” It came as quite a surprise to me that his family only moved into the house to raise the kids of Thomas Randolph after his and his spouse’s early deaths, as Thomas Randolph and Peter Jefferson, Thomas’ Father, had agreed upon earlier. The tour focused a decent amount on Thomas Jefferson, as that is what gets people to continue visiting.

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James Madison’s Montpelier: Connecting the Past to the Present

by Kristi Mukk

Kristi Mukk is a rising senior from Mililani, Hawaii. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Communications and minoring in English. She is a dancer and communications director for Ngoma African Dance Company. This is her first time working for the Race & Racism Project as a Summer Fellow, and she is excited to continue her work in the course Digital Memory & the Archive in Fall 2018.

The Mere Distinction of Colour exhibit at James Madison’s Montpelier opened to the public on June 5, 2017 and is located in the cellars under the mansion. The exhibit invites visitors to confront the great American paradox of the reality of slavery in a country that values liberty and freedom. Enslaved people played a large role in the lives of James and Dolley Madison. James Madison grew up around enslaved people working on the Montpelier plantation, and they were part of his birthright when his father passed away. Dolley Madison utilized the skills of the enslaved people to uphold her social status. James Madison served as president of the American Colonization Society, a group which sought to send free blacks to Africa as an alternative to emancipation in the United States. At the time of James Madison’s death, there were about 120 enslaved people at Montpelier. After his death, the enslaved people were not freed, but sold by Dolley Madison due to her financial situation.

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Storm in the Time of Shelter

by Ayele d’Almeida

Ayele d’Almeida is a Political Science and Leadership double-major from Bloomington, Minnesota. Her work at Common Ground, the University of Richmond’s social justice initiative informed her decision to pursue the Race & Racism Project as a summer fellow. She hopes that through her fellowship and continued connection with the project, she will learn more about the University of Richmond. Ayele believes that the Race & Racism Project will also help later in life – as the project forces her to question institutions she may benefits from. She hoped to focus her research on black faculty and the presence of black students in white-dominated clubs and spaces.

My second and last site visit for the Race & Racism Project was the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) on Sunday, July 1st. Going into the visit, I did not know much about the museum beside the fact that it was new. I had been seeing pictures of brightly patterned and slightly disturbing KKK robes on social media, but I had no idea that this installment was in the ICA.

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Gone but Not Forgotten

by Jacob Roberson

Jacob Roberson is a rising senior on the varsity football team from Richmond, VA double majoring in psychology and sociology. He is a co-vice president of UR Mentoring Network, he is a part of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and during the 2017-2018 academic year he was an appointed student representative of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response. Additionally, he has been inducted into numerous honor societies including Omicron Delta Kappa, Mortar Board, Alpha Kappa Delta, and Psi Chi. He joined the Race & Racism Project in the summer of 2018 as a part of Team Oral History and hopes to remain an active contributor and collaborator into and through the 2018-2019 school year.

On June 16, the Saturday before Juneteenth, I had the privilege of visiting Monticello—the former home of the “Father of the Declaration of Independence” and the United States’ 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson. For those who don’t know, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. June 19, 1865 was the day that word finally spread to the Deep South of Galveston, Texas by way of Union soldiers that the enslaved were finally free—even though this was two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863). Author of one of the most well-known lines in all of United States history, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…” Jefferson himself was responsible for the enslavement of hundreds of people during his lifetime.

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