Where I Come From, You Recognize Humanity by Ayele d’Almeida

Over the course of summer 2018, five A&S Summer Research Fellows conducted a series of interviews with University of Richmond black alumni. Expanding on previous research (see memory.richmond.edu) conducted in University Archives at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, the practice of oral histories seeks to grow what is held in the archival record, to give voice to the people and stories that have not been heard and/or included in the historical record. As the Baylor University Institute for Oral History explains: “Oral history provides a fuller, more accurate picture of the past by augmenting the information provided by public records, statistical data, photographs, maps, letters, diaries, and other historical materials. Eyewitnesses to events contribute various viewpoints and perspectives that fill in the gaps in documented history, sometimes correcting or even contradicting the written record. Interviewers are able to ask questions left out of other records and to interview people whose stories have been untold or forgotten. At times, an interview may serve as the only source of information available about a certain place, event, or person.”

After conducting a series of interviews, students were tasked with creating short podcasts from the stories they heard. Special thanks to Kelley Libby for joining our team this summer and providing instruction production assistance for these student works.

On June 20, 2018, Ayele d’Almeida (’20) and Jacob Roberson (’19) conducted an oral history interview with Stan Jones (R’83).

Click here to listen to the entire podcast produced by Ayele d’Almeida from the one hour and forty minute interview in which Jones discusses his experience of social life and academic life as a black student athlete on campus in the early 1980s.

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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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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The Monument to Stonewall Jackson’s Arm

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.

When Irina Rogova, the Race & Racism Project archivist first presented the list of potential site visits to our  group, every site seemed normal except for one — “The Monument to Stonewall Jackson’s Arm.” By normal, I mean that all of the other sites did not memorialize individuals but rather told a story. I had joked to myself saying “I wonder if it’ll be sticking up out of the dirt.” I am not sure what it was that initially drew me to visit the Monument to Stonewall Jackson’s Arm at Ellwood Manor. Thomas Johnathan “Stonewall” Jackson was an America Confederate general during the America Civil War. Ellwood Manor served as a field hospital after the Battle of Chancellorsville. Perhaps it was the mere disbelief that Jackson’s arm was buried separately from his body. It may have even been the fact that his arm was memorialized at all. Regardless of whatever it was, I set out to find out what the fervor was about on June 16th with Mysia Perry, another summer research fellow and Dr. Maurantonio, the Race & Racism Project Coordinator.

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The Urgency of Black Social Spaces on Campus

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.

Ayele d’Almeida interviews Stan Jones (R’81) with assistance from Jacob Roberson, June 20, 2018

I started my search for information on Stan Jones with a simple Google search: “Stan Jones University of Richmond.” My task was to research Mr. Jones–a 1983 graduate– before our oral history interview for the Race & Racism Project. The very first link was his LinkedIn profile, which would eventually send me down a rabbit hole of questions and digging about social spaces that welcome black students. Fortunately for me, Stan Jones’ entire professional career was laid out on his profile. Unfortunately, the questions that I had about his experience at the University of Richmond could not be answered in the small, 15- word summary on Mr. Jones’ LinkedIn page. I was interested in the experiences with that could not be shorted into a time span.

“Football, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Society of Collegiate Journalists” – these were the activities listed on Stan Jones’ LinkedIn page. I narrowed my focus on his fraternity. Phi Beta Sigma, which is a historically black Fraternity, I thought that it was interesting that there may have been a black fraternity on campus during Jones’ time. In my mind, learning more information about the presence of very specific black spaces would inform my knowledge of social experiences for black students. With these questions in mind, I searched the Race & Racism Project digital collection for Jones’ Fraternity. I found an article from 1980 entitled “Phi Beta Sigma Colonizes New Fraternity at Richmond” that describes the potential addition of the fraternity to the campus. The article brings to the light the need for black social spaces on campus.

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Multicultural Recruitment as a Gesture of Goodwill

[For the first blog post of the Summer 2018 A&S Research Fellowship, students were tasked with exploring the existing collection of the Race & Racism at UR Project at memory.richmond.edu and reflecting on the materials they encountered there.]

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 first introduction to the University of Richmond was in December of my Senior year – much later than the average applicant or attendee to the University. When I was accepted into the Richmond, I was flown out from Minnesota to visit campus through a multicultural accepted students program, entitled A Night To See and Experience Richmond (ANSWER). I would be on campus with a group of other multicultural-identified students and we would eventually transition into the larger accepted students’ day. It was during this first visit to campus that I learned that the University of Richmond is involved in an ongoing battle to recruit multicultural students. After one day of activities with other multicultural students, I was thrown into the larger admitted students day. I realized quickly that the number of multicultural students interested in and attending the University of Richmond was low. Although I was told multiple times about the rich, white, Southern reputation of the University, my expectations did not prepare me for the extent to which stereotypes were reinforced.

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