Can I Survive? by Mysia Perry

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 25, 2018, Ayele d’Almeida (’20) and Mysia Perry (’21) conducted an oral history interview with S. Joanne Morris (B’79).

Click here to listen to the entire podcast produced and narrated by Mysia Perry from the forty minute interview in which Morris discusses her experience as one of the few black women in the Robins School of Business in the late 1970s.

The Importance of Marginalized Narratives

by Mysia Perry

Mysia Perry is a rising sophomore from Richmond, VA with an intended major in Leadership Studies and minor in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She is a part of the WILL* program, Peer Advisors and Mentors, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and she is both an Oldham and Oliver Hill Scholar. This is her first summer working on the Race & Racism Project on Team Oral History, and she is very excited to begin working for more equitable environment here at the University of Richmond.

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

Left to right: Mysia Perry, Ayele d’Almeida, and S. Joanne Morris.

When I began my work on the Race & Racism Project, I expected completely overt and outright instances of prejudice and discrimination. I expected there to be black face and nooses and swastikas and instances upon instances when people called those before me a nigger. I didn’t think about how the racist views I witness must derive from the racist views and discriminatory experiences of the past marginalized groups. I wish I’d paid more attention to the details, where racism lies in the more subtle, socially acceptable forms. While I conducted and assisted with the interviews, I wish I had listened more to how the experiences that aren’t completely outright and direct affected the alumni. I found that as I worked more and more on the interviews, it was easier to pull out those things. In the first interviews, there were things I wish I had dug deeper into. I find that because I was so caught up on the things that did not happen, I didn’t listen closely enough to the things that did. I didn’t focus on the connections between the stories.

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The Hidden Gem of Jackson Ward

by Mysia Perry

Mysia Perry is a rising sophomore from Richmond, VA with an intended major in Leadership Studies and minor in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She is a part of the WILL* program, Peer Advisors and Mentors,  Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and she is both an Oldham and Oliver Hill Scholar. This is her first summer working on the Race & Racism Project on Team Oral History, and she is very excited to begin working for more equitable environment here at the University of Richmond.

I am always excited and proud to pass the bronze statue on Broad Street and Adams Street in Richmond, Virginia. Maggie Lena Walker’s statue stands at 10-feet, surrounded by the events that led her to be the respected, powerful businesswoman we know her as today. Other feelings consume me when I travel through the Monument Avenue Historic District: disappointment and discomfort. Those statues tower over my car, with the largest totaling over 60 feet tall. Those statues celebrate the enslavement of my ancestors.

When others think of Richmond, it is hard not to concentrate on our city weighing the decision of what to do with the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. Our identity has been consumed by this, especially after the events of last August in Charlottesville regarding the fate of other Confederate monuments. It is easy to forget about some of the opportunities Richmond held for black people during the Jim Crow era.  I found that as I visited the Maggie L. Walker Historic Site in Jackson Ward, I was able to finally see more than Richmond’s connection to the Civil War.

 

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The Lost Piece of Stonewall: Evaluating Our Obsession with the Confederacy

by Mysia Perry

Mysia Perry is a rising sophomore from Richmond, VA with an intended major in Leadership Studies and minor in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She is a part of the WILL* program, Peer Advisors and Mentors,  Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and she is both an Oldham and Oliver Hill Scholar. This is her first summer working on the Race & Racism Project on Team Oral History, and she is very excited to begin working for more equitable environment here at the University of Richmond.

CNN reported that, as of 2016, there were about 1,500 monuments to the Confederacy in public spaces throughout the United States. As I explored the internet searching for this number, I found myself wondering why we are so obsessed with the “losers.” America, and the South specifically, has developed this obsession with redefining how we see the Civil War because of all the shame that we hold as a result of its causes. From this fixation stems sayings such as “heritage not hate” and protests to removal of these monuments to the Confederacy. How are we in a country that has spent so much time condemning the controversial pasts of other countries, yet we have no fear in highlighting the scars of ourselves under false pretenses?

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Working Toward Archival Activism

by Mysia Perry

Mysia Perry is a rising sophomore from Richmond, VA with an intended major in Leadership Studies and minor in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She is a part of the WILL* program, Peer Advisors and Mentors,  Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and she is both an Oldham and Oliver Hill Scholar. This is her first summer working on the Race & Racism Project on Team Oral History, and she is very excited to begin working for more equitable environment here at the University of Richmond.

My mock interview and oral history preparation research began with doing an investigation and delving deeper into what good oral histories and podcasts would be. This all is a really new phenomenon for me, one that I am extremely unfamiliar with, so I spent most of my day one research just exploring the different ways in which people could create and produce radio. A big part of me being able to decide where I want to go with my research was identifying how I wanted to frame it in the end. I used this time to help me formulate an end goal and identify an overarching theme to highlight throughout my interviews. I ultimately decided that I wanted to highlight the ways we are affected by the views of those that we should be able trust. Overall, this idea would focus on how roommates, staff, and faculty affected the lives of the minority students that first arrived on campus. Once I did that, it was easier to figure out where I wanted to focus on as part of my research and the questions that we should ask.

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Finding Another Piece of the Puzzle

[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 Mysia Perry

Mysia Perry is a rising sophomore from Richmond, VA with an intended major in Leadership Studies and minor in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She is a part of the WILL* program, Peer Advisors and Mentors,  Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and she is both an Oldham and Oliver Hill Scholar. This is her first summer working on the Race & Racism Project on Team Oral History, and she is very excited to begin working for more equitable environment here at the University of Richmond.

I knew what I was doing when I applied to the University of Richmond. I knew that I would be entering a new environment where there would be little to no people who look like me in my classrooms.  I have been in predominantly white spaces before and had some idea of what that could mean for me, but worried what differences  there would be when the space included, less of me, in other ways. The predominantly white spaces I had previously occupied had heavier similarities between us socially than our difference in race. With college, a space where I would be surrounded by people who had different outlooks on life, I had thoughts about what my future would be. I found that it was best to ignore that only half a century ago my ancestors were not seen on the campus I live on. I tried not to worry about what this meant for me as a black, queer, female student at the University of Richmond.

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