This is the second post in a seven-part series in which we will share some of the results of our survey for scholars with you.
The second topic covered in our recent Faculty Survey was the notion of “Multilayered Publications.” Multilayered publications would be online publications that go beyond their print counterparts by including additional asides from the authors, additional sidebars, and links to multimedia primary sources used by the authors that are available on the internet. The scholars were asked if they would like to publish or use multilayered publications. A good portion of the 285 respondents, 63%, were interested in authoring multilayered publications. But there was even stronger interest in using multilayered publications, with 89% of the 284 respondents indicating they would use multilayered works in their teaching or research. Across both groups, respondents were particularly excited about the chance to link to multimedia primary sources.
This is the first post in a seven-part series in which we will share some of the results of our survey for scholars with you.
On June 29, we made our survey designed for scholars available. We wish to thank everyone who took the time to participate in the survey and extend a special thanks to the 274 individuals who completed the survey. The LCRM project staff is thrilled that we have received so many responses. Based on the high level of interest and diverse responses we have received so far, we have drawn some conclusions from the survey which we would like to share with you. Whether or not you have taken the survey, you can join in the conversation by adding your comments to our posts on each topic.
In the first section of the survey, we asked for the scholars’ input on our website. We specifically asked scholars if our website, currently organized as a blog, would be more use to them if it was reorganized and expanded to transform it into an online hub for LCRM-related materials.
The publication, entitled “A Handbook on American Indian Cultural Tourism in North Carolina,” contains useful information gleaned from a workshop on cultural tourism that the Center held in June 2009. It identifies types of cultural tourism, offers guidance on resources and best practices, and presents step-by-step advice on planning, marketing, and funding a tourism project.
I find the “Sample Community Inventory” (Appendix E) especially interesting. This list will remind communities of all the valuable assets in their areas that might merit protection or promotion. The activity of prompting community members to recognize the value of the landscapes, languages, architecture, cultural events, and other assets in their own backyards reminds me of the work of civil rights activists and public historians who encourage people to recognize the power and value of their own voices and memories. (See “My History Is America’s History” and “Bitten by the Public History Bug.”)
A while back, Netflix announced a $1 million award for improving the DVD-by-mail service’s recommendation service, which suggests films to its users based on their ratings of films they’ve seen. The service provides enough of a challenge to Netflix users, who have to make hard choices about their ratings. Do I give The Curious Case of Benjamin Button one star? What about Duplicity? Both terrible movies, but generally the kinds of movies I like created by filmmakers and actors I like. I wouldn’t want to miss out on Children of Men because Netflix thinks I don’t like Clive Owen, or The Game, because it thinks I don’t like David Fincher.
I likely just revealed how little I know about Netflix’s rating system, but may also have illustrated the kind of foolishness lots of smart people are dealing with as they seek to make the recommendation system work. And if these smart people could improve the system by 10%, a $1 million prize would be theirs. It seems they have.
What’s the point to the LCRM community? The successful efforts of an international team speak powerfully to the possibilities of crowdsourcing, sharing expertise and data to answer formerly unanswerable questions. The Times article linked above suggests applications in the sciences, but crowdsourcing has a role in the humanities, too. We do it all the time, such as when we send questions to a listserv. One result and possibility for the future is the Espy File, the massive collection of data on the history of the death penalty that was built mainly by one man, M. Watt Espy (who recently passed away), but has since been taken on by other historians. The Espy File reveals both the power and the potential for crowdsourcing history data–what if everyone working in the area contributed what they learned about, say, the races of victims in these crimes. A remarkable history, one with real relevance to today’s civil rights-inflected discussion of the death penalty, could emerge that would go much deeper than names and dates.
But, as the article suggests, crowdsourcing has its pitfalls, too. After all, most of the teams competing for the prize did not win.
W. Horace Carter, the journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for standing up to the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s, has died. He spoke to the SOHP in 1976.
Carter remembered the Klan motorcade that announced a more aggressive posture in Tabor County.
You see, up to then everything had been under cover, but when they come up with a motorcade, then you know that all these things you’ve been hearing are real. You realize that they are organizing and that they are gathering strength. And this did antagonize us, because at that time the way those motorcades worked they had these lighted crosses on the front car; they had the dome lights burning in all the other cars, with people in them with the masks on and the robes, disguised obviously. And what they did then is, they came up and down our main streets, but primarily they went up and down through all of the black section of town—then that was known as “The Bottom.” That’s what they called the Negro section, and they went up and down through these sections and tried to, more or less, intimidate these people. And, you know, I just felt it was wrong, that’s all.
Remembering the people of Tabor County’s relationship to the Klan:
The majority didn’t want to be on either side. The majority wanted to be just quiet about it; they didn’t want the Klan after them, and they didn’t want the people who were anti-Klan to know just where they stood either. So I’d say that the overwhelming majority were neutral, at least openly were neutral. But there was a lot of sentiment for the Klan. I continue to say, though, that the bulk of the people who were in the Klan itself were in there because of the adventure involved; not because of the moral aspects of it, but because they saw in this a chance to exert some power. And I think they were adventurous types, and I think that was the bulk of the people. Generally, though, the man on the street wasn’t for the Klan nor was he anti-Klan; he just didn’t care much. He just wanted to stay out of it, because they had some fear. I think the man on the street had some fear; as the floggings kept up they ran into numerous reasons why it was a litle bit risky for them to say anything either way.
On Friday, September 11, 2009, Crystal Lee Sutton passed away after battling several years with Meningioma, a form of brain cancer that is usually benign. “I call my cancer a journey,” she said in a June 2008 interview with The Burlington Times-News, “and it is interesting to see where it goes. It reminds you to live each day to the best you can.”
The spirited hope and courage with which Sutton approached her fight with cancer was matched only by her commitment to the fight for justice and respect for workers. Her activism on behalf of workers and the poor began in 1973 when Sutton was working at the J.P. Stevens textile mill in Roanoke Rapids (taken over by a Georgia-based company in 1988) and became involved in the Textile Workers Union of America’s unionization campaign. After copying down an anti-union notice posted in the mill by management, Sutton was fired and arrested for disorderly conduct. Her moment of defiance before she was forced from the mill, standing atop a table holding a “UNION” sign high above her head, was immortalized in the 1979 Academy-award winning movie Norma Rae.
Sutton’s activism took many forms and connected struggles for unionization with the women’s movement. In 1974, she appeared in the pilot episode of PBS’ Woman Alive!, featuring Gloria Steinem and Lily Tomlin, and articulated the need for union representation to protect working women and promote gender equity. In 1980, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union of America (ACTWU) sent her on a speaking tour to promote the union’s boycott of J.P. Stevens’ products. As the “real Norma Rae,” Sutton travelled across the country and even to Canada and the Soviet Union in support of workers’ rights to organize for better wages, fair treatment, and safe working conditions. In 2007, she donated her personal papers to Alamance Community College, a place “where the working poor can come… and get a new start to life,” she maintained. During her illness, she vocalized her own struggles with the health care industry.
On Friday, the world lost a steadfast advocate for social justice, but her contributions and commitment will not be forgotten. The story of Crystal Lee’s thirty-five years of campaigning for a more democratic society will continue to inspire activists, workers, and scholars.
Joey Fink is a graduate student in the History Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Rounding out our Black Power series, Yohuru Williams of Fairfield University reflects on historical narrative and Black Power as he comments on Peniel E. Joseph’s paper at The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories, a conference hosted by the Southern Oral History Program, April 2-4, 2009.
The LCRM staff is thrilled to have received 274 completed responses to our faculty survey!
We would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate. We will be closing out the survey tomorrow so we can begin to share the results with you in a series of blog posts. So if you would still like to participate in the faculty survey, this is your last chance! We are also working on finishing a new survey intended for librarians that we will post soon.