It is now widely acknowledged within the profession that archives largely reflect history from a white upper class privileged position. This reality is due to many factors including the lack of diversity in the profession and institutional practices that follow established patterns of systemic racism and classism. By creating the Initiative on Under-Represented Collections with a Focus on Students of Color in 2016 and starting a dialogue and work with student activists I hope to have helped advance work on these issues. As a white archivist I have tried to approach this work with the belief that trust and relationship building as well as a willingness to question personal and professional assumptions were the foundation of our work together. Equally important is acknowledging and checking my own power.
At the start of this project, several amazing students and alumni volunteered many hours of their time to build a foundation for this work. On December 1 2016, original members of what would come to be called the Brandeis BLK Archives Collective joined other concerned students for an important evening in the Archives for a conversation about how the narrative of Black lives at Brandeis should be properly documented. The concept of the portal came out of this brainstorming session. Subsequently, paid student positions were created to advance our projects. Students were given the agency to select projects to fulfill their goals and the platform to shape and narrate the product of their goals.
The release of the timeline on the history of the Ford Hall movement of 1969 is the first of what is hoped to be an expanding resource for the community.
My deepest appreciation and thanks go out to the following students and alumni for engaging in this work with me and for endeavoring to make the Archives a more inclusive space of service to the community:
Chari Calloway ’20
Queen White ’16
Wil Jones ’18
Aja Antoine ’17
Mercedes Hall ’17
Marian Gardner ’18
Micha Broadnax ‘12
Delande Justinvil ‘13
I would also like to thank several professionals in various fields who provided advice, guidance, and support including:
Dr. Madeleine Lopez, Brandeis University
Dr. Chad Williams, Brandeis University
Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Massachusetts Historical Society
Alex Willett, Brandeis University
Dr. Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Brandeis University
Chad Bergeron, Brandeis University
Renee Neely, University of Rhode Island
Maggie McNeely, University Archivist, Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections