Field Notes
November 2015
From the Acting Director
A few weeks ago, a train delay forced my mother to wait on a hard wooden bench in the Charlotte station for nearly an hour. She hates those benches. For her, they bring back memories of her childhood. She used to walk with friends to the original location of the Charlotte station to watch the soldiers wait for their trains during World War II. At the time, the station was bifurcated by a rod iron fence to honor the spatial logics of segregation: "colored" soldiers on one side; whites on the other. The colored section had what my mother called "straight up and down" shallow-seat benches that made it difficult for the black soldiers to find comfort.  Their peers in the "white" section, on the other hand, sat and slept on the kinds of deep-seated, slightly curved-back benches that are currently in the station. That was one of my mother's intimate memories of US involvement in World War II: same uniforms, same war, different benches.

I have thought about that story a lot over the past few weeks. It came to mind listening to one of our field scholars, Evan Faulkenbury, give a colloquium on philanthropy in the southern civil rights movement; listening to Tracy K'Meyer's Hutchins lecture on school desegregation in Louisville; and watching field scholar Taylor Livingston work with interns Alex Ford, Devin Holman, Monique Laborde, and Destinie Pittman as they interview members of a group of the first African American students who attended UNC from 1952-1972. It came to mind again watching black students and their allies continue the unfinished work of the civil rights movement by protesting for greater inclusion on our campuses and laboring alongside invested administrators to reckon with the legacies of anti-black racism that continue to restrict underrepresented faculty, staff, and students from experiencing a full sense of belonging.  

All these things were on my mind this weekend as I witnessed the horrific acts of terrorism in Beirut and Paris on my television and participated in discussions about those attacks as well as prior and on-going atrocities fueled by xenophobia, fear, and anger in Syria, Kenya, Nigeria, Northern Iraq, and other spaces and places in need of recognition and healing.

On campuses and in city streets around the globe, the question that reverberates is: What can we who are invested in social justice do right now? I tend to believe that the first step, although humble, is the most important. We can listen. We speak our values, our hopes, and our pain through our stories. We can stand in witness to another's telling, ask honest questions, and do what is in our power to do. We can stand in solidarity by first showing active empathy and care. We have to be willing to connect the dots between domestic acts of racism and xenophobia and those perpetrated abroad. That work begins with the stories we make space to hear and how we choose to value them. 

--Renée Alexander Craft

Remembering Cliff Kuhn, 1952-2015

This piece was written by SOHP Founding Director Jacquelyn Dowd Hall.

On November 8th, an SOHP stalwart and dear friend Cliff Kuhn died of a heart attack in Atlanta, GA. Cliff was an associate professor of history at Georgia State University, where he has inspired a love of history in students since 1989. He was 63 years old.

I've known him since shortly after he graduated from Princeton. He was one of a number of young people fascinated by the South who came through town and slept on our couch in the early 1970s. In a sense he never left-well, he left our couch, but not the South. He got a Ph.D. in history at UNC Chapel Hill and was part of the team that conducted the interviews and wrote the initial working papers that led to the publication of Like a Family: the Making of a Cotton Mill World in 1987. 

He was a font of boundless energy, enthusiasm, and generosity. He loved to talk. At the same time, the tributes pouring out of Atlanta rightly say that the city "has lost it greatest listener."

His wife, Kathie Klein, and their sons Gabe and Josh will be in our hearts. A memorial service will be held next month in Atlanta.

To read the rest of this remembrance, visit the SOHP website here.
Internship News

Current SOHP Interns
We're now accepting applications for our Spring 2016 Undergraduate Internship. There are three parts to the internship: a weekly seminar with Taylor Livingston, an SOHP field scholar; beatwork at the SOHP office; and an oral history project. To learn more and download the application visit the internship webpage. Applications are due by November 23rd. And pass it on to any undergrads you think might be interested!

In other internship news, our current interns will present their work at the end-of-semester oral history performance on Wednesday, December 9th at 10:00AM. Their work this semester focused on the Black Pioneers, the first cohort of black students to attend Chapel Hill. All are welcome, and light refreshments will be served. For more info, visit the event page. We look forward to seeing you there!
Events Roundup

Tracy K'Meyer with Jacquelyn Dowd Hall
Yet again, SOHP has had a busy month of events! On October 22nd we welcomed SOHP alumna Tracy K'Meyer for a Hutchins Lecture on  "Remembering School Desegregation: Oral History and the Long Struggle for Equality in Education in Louisville, KY, 1954-2015," which you can view in its entirety  here. Following the lecture was a lively discussion of public schools in Kentucky and North Carolina, then and now. Thanks for a great lecture, Tracy!

Our staff have also been a big presence at conferences this month. Acting director Renée Alexander Craft presented a paper at the annual meeting of the   Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora  ( ASWAD ); her paper was titled "Duality, Double-Consciousness, and the Trick of Performing for 'Others': Race, Gender, and Tourism." And associate director Rachel Seidman moderated a panel at the first-ever Feminism Here & Now conference at UNC, titled "Protest, Dissent, Advocacy: Social Movements and Gender." Rachel also participated in the closing panel discussion, "Responding to Feminism Here & Now 2015." SOHP was proud to participate in and co-sponsor this important event.
Southern Oral History Program  |  Center for the Study of the American South 
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  |  410 E. Franklin Street  |  Chapel Hill, NC 27514
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