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Racism and Storytelling


Program Stream: Racism and Storytelling

This program stream addresses the narratives, told and untold, through which racism is (re)presented throughout history. Faculty, students, and institutional grant partners explore, interrogate, and present stories of racism in formats including oral histories, architectural exhibits, artistic expressions and performances, and digital archives.

Oral History with the Heartland Alliance

Grant Partner: Heartland Alliance

Faculty: Courtney Joseph

In spring 2020, Professor Courtney Joseph’s The Historian’s Workshop course (HIST 300) explored the methodology of oral histories by having students interview Heartland Alliance staff.  A range of employees from Heartland’s diverse programming made themselves available for this project. Eighteen staff members, including participants in Heartland’s READI gang violence program, violence recovery and prevention programs, and refugee community program originally made themselves available to be interviewed by the 15 advanced History students in the class. Due to the COVID-19, the course moved on-line, in-person interviews were cancelled, and only three Heartland staff members were able to be interviewed in spring 2020. However, in Summer 2020, two student researchers were funded by the grant to complete their investigation documenting how Heartland’s staff and the communities they serve were adapting to the pandemic.

The second part of this project was completed in spring 2021: the creation of a webpage on the Humanities 2020 website entitled “Oral History: Lake Forest College + Heartland Alliance", which presents transcripts and recordings of the oral histories. The interviews and webpage will also be available to Heartland’s staff to tell the stories of their staff and clients.

(In)Visible Infrastructure

Grant Partner: Metropolitan Planning Council

Faculty: David Sanchez Burr

With community engagement support from the Metropolitan Planning Council, Professor David Sanchez Burr and a Lake Forest College student researcher, Alondra Velazquez, are documenting (through interviews, video, 3D imaging, 360° environment mapping, music, and conversation) what they call the “(In)visible Architecture” of the neighborhood that is not reflected in the media and that is often lost through gentrification, including neighborhood culture, support networks, and stories. Narratives and images collected will be shared with the MPC and highlighted on their website. The first phase of the project will culminate in an exhibit at Lake Forest College in the fall 2021; it may continue to explore more neighborhoods in Chicago as part of the grant’s strategies for instigating public conversations, through humanities education, on racism in the Chicago-area.