Don’t Sit in Your Complacency

by Shira Greer

Shira Greer is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia majoring in Political Science and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus she is also a Richmond Scholar, an Oliver Hill Scholar, a Peer Advisor and Mentor, and a member of the Executive Council for a Multicultural Space at the University.

Now that my work this summer on the project is done, I can reflect on the experience of being on Team Oral History. At the start of the summer, I was somewhat apprehensive about my choice to join Team Oral History as opposed to Team Archive. I questioned whether I would be good at interviewing and had no clue how I would learn to create a podcast considering my limited exposure to the medium. However, I now can see how much I’ve learned through my work this summer.

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Reclaiming the Narrative

by Shira Greer

Shira Greer is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia majoring in Political Science and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus she is also a Richmond Scholar, an Oliver Hill Scholar, a Peer Advisor and Mentor, and a member of the Executive Council for a Multicultural Space at the University.

For my second site visit, I chose to go to Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). One of the exhibitions on display is entitled Monument, and is the first work of the ICA’s Provocations series, which commissions artists to create a new artwork for the light-filled, high-ceilinged True Farr Luck Gallery, housed on the top floor of the museum and designed by architect Steven Holl as “a provocation for artists to engage.” Created by Rashid Johnson, Monument is a towering steel structure filled with plants, shea butter sculptures, books, and video monitors.

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The Importance of Community History

by Shira Greer

Shira Greer is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia majoring in Political Science and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus she is also a Richmond Scholar, an Oliver Hill Scholar, a Peer Advisor and Mentor, and a member of the Executive Council for a Multicultural Space at the University.

For my first site visit, I chose to go to the Pocahontas Island Black History Museum in Petersburg, Virginia. Like much of Virginia, Petersburg is full of rich history, and Pocahontas Island is no exception: it was home to at least two stops on the Underground Railroad as well as one of the first free black communities in United States, though enslaved Africans and white people lived on the land as well. As such, the area’s history spans from before the Revolutionary War to today, and the area is listed on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Although Pocahontas Island has government recognition, Preservation Virginia listed it as one of the most endangered historic sites in Virginia due to a lack of funding to adequately restore the important properties on the island in order to communicate the area’s historical significance. Accordingly, the Black History Museum is privately owned and operated by Richard Stewart, a 76 year old Pocahontas Island native. He began the museum in 2003 out of a desire to share his love for the area’s history with visitors to the museum.

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Finding Life in the Archives

by Shira Greer

Shira Greer is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia majoring in Political Science and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus she is also a Richmond Scholar, an Oliver Hill Scholar, a Peer Advisor and Mentor, and a member of the Executive Council for a Multicultural Space at the University.

Shira Greer with Dominic Finney and Jenifer Yi.

Once the excitement of being assigned my first interview subject wore off, I realized I now had the somewhat daunting task of starting to research my subject, 1999 alum Dominic Finney. I was hoping that there would be multiple hits once I searched his name on The Collegian and on the UR Scholarship Repository, but unfortunately, I didn’t have much luck. Each website only pulled up a couple of results, and gave me little insight into how Dominic Finney spent his four years at UR, aside from some of the organizations he was involved in on campus and what he majored in. A Google search returned his LinkedIn page, which gave me a bit more information about what he had been up to since his time as an undergraduate, which included returning UR for both a master’s degree as well as a certificate from the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Still, I was left with many questions about what Dominic’s life as an undergraduate at the University of Richmond was like. Clearly, I was going to have to shift my focus from being solely on Dominic and instead to different sources that would point to the more general atmosphere on campus.

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There Is Nothing New Under the Sun

by Shira Greer

Shira Greer is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia majoring in Political Science and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus she is also a Richmond Scholar, an Oliver Hill Scholar, a Peer Advisor and Mentor, and a member of the Executive Council for a Multicultural Space at the University.

Before coming to the University of Richmond, I knew virtually nothing about its history. When applying to different schools, their histories were the furthest thing from my mind: I was only concerned with current academic and extracurricular offerings and of course, financing my education. Upon my arrival to campus, I was still clueless about UR’s history, but I soon came to learn more about it. I began hearing about the Race & Racism Project during my first semester and took a cursory look through the website and the student exhibits presented there.

However, it was not until I joined the project that I began to take a deeper look into the project, and therefore the school’s history. In examining the project website, I started with the subject lists. The “Black Power” subject heading was the first to catch my eye, as after attending UR for a year I couldn’t imagine the Black Power movement having much effect on UR’s campus. While my suspicion proved correct, I was surprised to find that Dick Gregory gave a lecture on campus in 1970, then again in 1973, despite alumni backlash after his first appearance. Learning about his unexpected appearances on campus reminded me how much I still don’t know about this university, yet a quote from Gregory’s lecture reminded me how little our social circumstances have changed. During his lecture, he told the students in attendance “You are going to be the group that is going to solve this country’s problems, or this country is going to fall,” a sentiment that is still repeated to my generation today. This similarity reminded me of the adage “there is nothing new under the sun,” which I found rang true throughout my dive into the Race & Racism website.

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