On Campus but Not Welcomed

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 26, 2018, Rena Xiao (’20) conducted an oral history interview with Dr. Jesse Moore (B’81), with audio assistance from Eden Wolfer (’20).

Click here to listen to the entire podcast produced and narrated by Rena Xiao from the one hour and thirty minute interview in which Moore discusses his experience as a black student athlete at the Robins School of Business in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

A History of Slavery Won’t Look Nice on Your Wedding Pinterest Board

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.

Driving down the gravel path it is easy to see how one can be seduced by the idyllic, tranquil settings of Westover Plantation. The grounds are surrounded by farmland and greenery right on the banks of the James River. The place is quiet except for the occasional breeze or bird chirp. Looking around, one could see how the red brick mansion and expansive green lawn could be the backdrop of a wedding or birthday party. Westover Plantation is inviting and alluring, without even a mention of its nefarious past of slavery.

Read more

Uncovering Untold Narratives of the University of Richmond

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.

The Race & Racism Project Oral History team has been busy conducting research for our upcoming interviews. The team will be interviewing Black alumni of the University of Richmond who attended this school in the 1970s and 80s. This past week has been dedicated to prep for the interview by drafting questions and learning as much as possible about our subjects. We have poured over online articles, yearbooks and archive materials to learn more about each individual and what campus was like back when they were students. I have spent the past few days looking into the life of Rayford L. Harris Jr, a student athlete and mathematics major who graduated with the Class of 1987.

Read more

Students of Color Unwelcome on Campus: Thing of the Past?

[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 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.

When I walk by tour groups on campus, I will often hear tour guides tout the benefits of attending a small liberal arts college. I find most of these ring true: the small class sizes, more research opportunities, better relationship with professors, and a campus that doesn’t feel overwhelmed with the number of students. However, I find the tour guides statements of a “small, close knit community” are false. More often than not, I have found campus space here at the University of Richmond to be divided by different by racial and class lines.  For a population of only 3,036 people, there is a great deal of separation and segregation between student groups. Student life and campus culture at this school cater mostly to students of the dominant group: white students within Greek life. They have the greatest mobility to move through social spaces and have their identity reflected in the culture, practices, and behavior of this school.

Read more

css.php