Preserving Pieces of History at Howard University
This month, we are highlighting some wonderful stories we have collected from Howard University, one of our great partners in Washington, D.C.
StoryCorps has partnered with the university’s Legacy Initiative three times to record conversations between some of Howard’s influential retirees and their colleagues and loved ones. The Howard University Legacy Initiative celebrates and preserves the legacy of the college’s retiring faculty and staff – people who have helped shape Howard University into what it is today.
Each time we’ve been able to hear stories about a wide range of experiences, but back in August we were lucky to hear two stories of personal encounters with major leaders in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.
Dr. Loretta Easton (left) and Darline Dugger (right)
Dr. Loretta Easton spoke with Darline Dugger of the Legacy Initiative about going to college at Howard University and becoming a physician. In 1959, after graduating from Howard, Dr. Easton moved to Hawaii to continue her education. Shortly after arriving, she met a man who introduced himself and invited her to dinner. Dr. Easton had forgotten his name shortly after meeting and was struggling to remember. She shared the pivotal moment of realization, which occurred when they were sitting down at dinner.
“Still I could not figure out who this man was. I looked at the tie-clasp that he had on, and there were the initials ‘MLK’ and I had just had dinner with Martin Luther King.”
Martin Luther King Jr. is pictured above marching from Selma, wearing leis provided by the Hawaiian delegates to the march.
In another conversation, Dr. Delores H. Carpenter talked to her former student and Rev. Sindile Dlamini about her work as a student in the Divinity School at Howard, becoming a professor, and working in the community. Dr. Carpenter shared her memories of the emerging Black Power movement and how she perceived its message at the time.
Dr. Delores H. Carpenter (right) and Sindile Diamani (left)
“I was in the graduate theological school at Howard, and I remember the very famous Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown being on campus when the words ‘Black Power’ were brand new to the country…there was this new Black consciousness awakening, which was wonderful because the theme was ‘Black is Beautiful.’ That had a profound impact on me and on the nation.”
These personal reflections are so essential in understanding the impact the Civil Rights movement had on our country, and how it continues to inform the national dialogue today. We look forward to recording and preserving more stories like these from across the country.
Chicago School Closings: Watch and Respond
StoryCorps is partnering with The School Project, a six-part documentary series on public education releasing six segments over the 2014-2015 school year. As a whole, this series explores the local perspectives on recent mass school closings in Chicago, the expansion of charter schools, the controversy surrounding standardized testing, school discipline policies, and the history of reforms and educational models. StoryCorps is incredibly excited to colloborate with such an important project, as we work to record and share the personal stories of people in the Chicago area on the issues surrounding public education.
Want to learn more? The second installment of this series “Chicago Public Schools: Closed,” will premiere January 22nd! This short documentary follows Rousemary Vega, a parent turned activist, through the maze of hearings and protests that preceded the largest school closings in American history. “Chicago Public Schools: Closed” features major figures in public education–Terry Mazany, Linda Lutton, Andrea Zopp, Karen Lewis, David Vitale, and Jitu Brown–who help connect the dots between decades old education policies, demographic shifts, and the challenges facing CPS today. You can hear the StoryCorps interview from WBEZ when the schools originally closed in 2013.
Photos by Bill Healy
For those of you in the Chicago area, this film will premiere with a free public screening in the Performance Hall at the University of Chicago Logan Center on Thursday, January 22 at 6:30pm. The screening will be followed by a presentation of new research on school closings by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research and a subsequent panel discussion moderated by Laura Washington of the Chicago Sun-Times. Interested? The event is FREE and all can RSVP here.
StoryCorps wants to help record your own experiences with school closings. Whether you’re a teacher, parent, student, community member, we want to hear how school closings have impacted you. How has your neighborhood changed? How have your children been effected? What is the social environment of your new school like now? Make your appointment on our website today! Just mention “The School Project” during your StoryCorps recording to our facilitators to be included!
From our StoryCorps in Chicago team member, Andre Perez.