Monthly Archive for November, 2009

Video of the Week: Larry J. Griffin on the Southern Past

Larry J. Griffin, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gives his talk “Race, Memory, and Historical Responsibility: What Do Southerners Do with a Difficult Past?” at The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories, a conference hosted by the Southern Oral History Program, April 2-4, 2009. For more video, visit the LCRM Common Room.

Friday News Roundup

Our irregular news roundup of civil rights-related news items:

*The National Book Award goes to a Mainer who wrote a biography of Claudette Colvin, who in 1955, at age 15, refused to give up a seat on a bus (months before Rosa Parks’s storied stand). She remembered that she had a head full of history at the time. We’ll put that in the “pro” column for Maine.

*North Carolina’s own Virginia Foxx (the same Virginia Foxx who said that the murder of Matthew Shephard was a “hoax”) claims that Republicans passed the “civil rights bills of the 1960s without very much help from our friends across the aisle who love to engage in revisionist history.” Funny! In fact, careful Wikipedia research reveals that not a single southern Republican, like Foxx, voted for the Civil Rights Act.

*And finally, the FBI is asking for help finding the families of thirty-three people murdered during the civil rights era.

When Is a Right Not a Right?

When you’ve committed a felony! Just two states allow convicted felons to vote without restrictions. Twelve states empower themselves to permanently bar convicted felons–including those who have served their sentences and completed probation and/or parole–from voting. This chart from is worth a look.

It may not be terribly surprising that people who violate the laws of a state might have their membership, as it were, temporarily or permanently suspended, the equivalent of banishment within borders. But the interesting thing is that these felons do not disappear in any other sense. They are counted as residents of the county in which they are incarcerated, for example, population counts which have real effects on the appropriation of resources and political influence. So it’s a double-whammy for the African-American felons locked up in rural areas in states like Mississippi and Virginia… not only do they lose the right to vote, but their presence in prisons actually empowers politicians who may not have their interests at heart, and have an incentive to keep their prison full.

This is relatively idle speculation, but it is somewhat backed up by Marie Gottschalk, who wrote the excellent The Prison and the Gallows. In 2007, Gottschalk wrote,

In Pennsylvania and 47 other states, imprisoned felons are barred from voting. Yet these disenfranchised prisoners are included in the population tallies used to draw legislative and congressional districts.

This practice dilutes the votes of urban areas such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Nearly 40 percent of the 45,0000 inmates in Pennsylvania’s state prisons come from Philadelphia. For census and redistricting purposes, these urban citizens “reside” in counties far from their homes, often in rural districts that are Republican strongholds.

It’s diabolical. One solution to this particular issue is to change how the census is taken. It’s not clear whether that will happen, especially in this politically polarized, and thus stagnant, climate. And the other solution–incarcerating fewer people, especially for non-violent offenses–is certainly a no-go in this tough-on-criminal country.

4 Principles for E-book Discovery & Visibility

At the Charleston Conference, I attended an all-day preconference workshop on e-books organized by Sue Polanka of Wright State University (who runs the blog No Shelf Required), Carolyn Morris of Coutts Information Services, and Janet Fischer of Publishers Communication Group, Inc. I was especially impressed with the final talk of the day, given by Anh Bui of HighWire Press, Stanford University–probably because she said things that support the ideas in our Long Civil Rights Movement online pilot!

I would like to share my notes from Anh Bui’s talk here.  Keep in mind that they are rough; I was typing as fast as I could!  The underlining is mine.  Corrections from Ms Bui or others who attended are welcome.

4 principles for e-book discovery and visibility: Continue reading ‘4 Principles for E-book Discovery & Visibility’

Meet Gene Nichol

Gene Nichol, LCRM conference panelist and Board of Consultant member among many other roles, was recently on WUNC’s The State of Things to discuss his life and his position as Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC. You can listen to the interview online here and get a chance to meet Gene Nichol.

Civil Rights Photography

Twelve photographers who covered the civil rights movement for the Birmingham News in the 1950s and 1960s were recognized recently by the Anti-Defamation League. The Birmingham News has the story, including a link to a 2006 online exhibit of previously unpublished (!!) photographs from demonstrations. Worth a look.

Video of the Week: Kathryn L. Nasstrom on Historical Memory

Kathryn L. Nasstrom of the University of San Francisco comments on the panel “Race, Memory, and Reconciliation,” which featured papers by Renee C. Romano and Larry J. Griffin. The panel was part of “The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories,” a conference hosted by the Southern Oral History Program, April 2-4, 2009. For more video, visit the LCRM Common Room.

The Charleston Conference

Trains and battleships were two of the most telling metaphors that presenters at last week’s Charleston Conference used in their attempt to describe the strength, speed, and scariness of the changes currently taking place in academic librarianship and scholarly publishing.  The news media and press outlets that focus on education and publishing seem to regard 2009 as a tipping point for public acceptance and business success of e-books.   The speakers at this conference attended by 1,000 academic librarians and scholarly publishers clearly recognized that this enormous change is upon us.

In a talk entitled “I Hear the Train A Comin'”  Kevin Guthrie, President of Ithaka, asked, “When the tracks and the cars come up to everyone’s door, what happens to the beautiful old train station?”  He was of course referring to the impact of the Web on libraries, many of which may no longer be needed as physical repositories of content duplicated down the street, across town, and online.

Responding to this year’s conference theme “Necessity Is the Mother of Invention,” several speakers urged librarians to act quickly and strongly for positive change.   Ivy Anderson of the California Digital Library said that reorienting libraries toward the future was “like turning a battleship around.”  In an inspiring keynote speech, David Lankes of the Information Institute of Syracuse memorably referred to the dubious efficacy of “conducting exit interviews on the deck of the Titanic“!

Lankes urged librarians to recognize their mission “to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” and become innovative, proactive leaders.  When I described the speech to a colleague here at UNC Press, she immediately said, “That could also apply to publishers!”  I told her that in fact the first audience member to comment during the Q&A session said exactly that.  In another plenary speech, Douglas Armato of the University of Minnesota Press concluded, speaking of libraries and publishers, “If we’re not dealing with this evolution together, we should be.”

In an effort to digest my voluminous notes for my colleagues, I came up with the following list of 10 takeaways from the conference. Continue reading ‘The Charleston Conference’

XML Publishing Workshop

The Digital Production Specialist whom we hired as part of the LCRM project, Kenneth Reed, is off to Ann Arbor, Michigan to give a workshop on XML work flows for scholarly publishers as part of the Conference and Members’ Meeting of the TEI Consortium.

Kenneth’s position is the first to be shared between UNC Press and the UNC Library.  With experience in electronic publishing from Oxford University Press, where he worked on Oxford Scholarship Online, he has been working to help UNC Press establish an XML work flow, and in so doing has become a resource for the scholarly publishing community.  The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) is sponsoring his trip, and his co-presenter is David Sewell of the University of Virginia Press.

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language, a way of tagging the structure of digital content that is format neutral and therefore considered future proof.   Continue reading ‘XML Publishing Workshop’

Video of the Week: Michael Lienesch on Conservative Politics

Michael Lienesch of the University of North Carolina comments on papers by Matthew D. Lassiter and Joseph Crespino given at “The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories,” a conference hosted by the Southern Oral History Program, April 2-4, 2009. For more video, visit the LCRM Common Room.