Monthly Archive for October, 2010

November 3: Pauli Murray Panel

Mark your calendars! November marks the beginning of the Pauli Murray Project’s Centennial Celebration of the life and work of activist, poet, scholar, and priest Pauli Murray. There’s a noon discussion of Durham (NC) history at the John Hope Franklin Center in Durham, then a 6pm panel discussion of Murray’s rejection on the basis of race from the University of North Carolina School of Law. Murray is an exemplar of the long civil rights movement–someone who began her activism as a child in the early part of the twentieth century when she refused on principle to continue attending her segregated school, who in the 1930s pressed the University of North Carolina on its decision to deny her admittance, and at age 67 gave the eucharist as a priest in the church where her grandmother was baptized as a slave.

The Forgotten Civil Rights Hero

From NPR, the story of Octavius Catto, who fought to desegregate the horse-drawn streetcarts in nineteenth-century Philadelphia. We are so used to stories of the civil rights movement grounded in the 1950s and 1960s, and protests reliant on television publicity that Catto’s story seems almost unbelievable.

Catto didn’t just push for desegregation of public facilities nearly 100 years before most Americans were aware of such a thing as the civil rights movement; he fielded an all-black baseball team (not to mention a black Civil War regiment) and fought for voting rights for African Americans. Catto was a remarkable pioneer, and like many civil rights activists, he died for his cause: he was shot dead by a Democratic Party operative after rallying African Americans to vote Republican.

Tasting Freedom, the new study of the civil rights activist Octavius Catto

Catto wasn’t just a lone outlier. He worked with other activists at the time (like Frederick Douglass) and organized mass demonstrations. It’s discoveries like this one that make the study of the long civil rights movement so valuable and so urgent.

Read the whole story in Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America.

New “Writing History” Site

The new website Writing History:  How Historians Research, Write, and Publish in the Digital Age is a clean and substantive use of CommentPress, a program built on the blogging software WordPress that allows commenting at the paragraph level, similar to the LCRM Project’s Voice platform.

The site presents well-written, thought-provoking essays on writing and publishing by historians Jack Dougherty and Ansley Erikson.

The Campus Y and Future Activism

This weekend, UNC celebrated the 150th anniversary of the founding of Carolina’s Campus Y. The Campus Y has for years (150 of them) been the locus of social justice activism on UNC’s campus, from the struggle for desegregation, to protest against the notorious speaker ban, to opposition to the Vietnam War. In the Daily Tar Heel, Jonathan Tarleton takes a critical look at the Campus Y and seeks to lay out a path for another 150 years of action, including this nugget:

Collective action will breed collective identity, returning what has become only a building hosting a cohort of strong organizations to its historical manifestation — an enduring example of the power of a cohesive community of students to be a force for change in our society.

Stanley Boyd: SNCC Undercover

In 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee sent Stanley Boyd to Clarksdale, Mississippi, to infiltrate the white community there and identify the power players. Boyd, a pacifist who grew up in Pasadena, California, arrived in Clarksdale saying he was a graduate student working on his thesis. He was soon plugged into the town’s power structure–bankers, mainly–and free to roam and observe the mechanics of the white and black communities. He dined with powerful whites and attended services at black churches, submitting reports to SNCC in an effort to guide their efforts to force desegregation. And he escaped Clarksdale unscathed. Not Holly Springs, though–later that year he was idling his his car, waiting to evacuate civil rights activists in case threatened violence took place, when he was arrested, jailed, and beaten. Though he left SNCC not long afterward (with many whites), Boyd remained active in the civil rights community.

The Southern Oral History Program and the Duke Oral History Project spoke with Boyd at the 50th anniversary conference hosted by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at Shaw University in April. Take a look:

Stanley Boyd from Southern Oral History Program on Vimeo.

The Pauli Murray Project

Duke’s Pauli Murray Project is gearing up for the centennial of Pauly Murray’s birth. Murray was a poet, activist, scholar, and priest, as well as a Durham resident who played with words, ideas, and identities throughout her long career of writing, study, and activism.

Take a look at the project’s site for a list of November panels and other events: Pauli Murray centennial.

Collecting vs. Connecting

Collecting vs. Connecting looks like a court case that might be filed by our project partners at the Center for Civil Rights, but it only refers to the two ways that e-books can be enhanced with multimedia content such as audio and video files:

  1. Collecting. The e-book can include multimedia files that are embedded with the text and travel with it wherever it goes.  This way, access to the material is not dependent upon links that might break in the future.   However, the scope of the content is limited to the files that were embedded prior to publication.  In the multimedia e-book Give My Poor Heart Ease:  Voices of the Mississippi Blues, the examples are well chosen, consistently placed, and generous in number and length, so the format certainly does not feel limiting.
  2. Connecting. The e-book can include links to multimedia that is hosted by a library, archive, publisher, or other entity.  This way, the e-book file remains small and nimble, and the book illustration becomes a window to a treasure trove of like materials.  If you have access to the LCRM online pilot site, you can see links in some of the books that demonstrate this possibility.  For example, in Kat Charron’s biography of Septima Clark, Freedom’s Teacher, there are links to Clark’s scrapbook at the Lowcountry Digital Library, hosted by the College of Charleston, and to audio files of interviews conducted with Clark during the 1970s, hosted by the UNC Library.

This distinction between collecting and connecting is significant for the Long Civil Rights Movement Project.  In our pilot online collection, we have emphasized the potential for linking via a commenting feature where registered users can add links when related materials become available online, thereby enhancing the e-books in real time.

Perhaps the distinction will vanish in the future.  First, e-books will contain both embedded content and outbound links.  Next, perhaps they will update themselves over time, like software!

150th Anniversary of the UNC Campus Y

This weekend, UNC’s Campus Y will be hosting their 150th Anniversary on campus. The celebration will feature engaging discussions, motivating talks, enlightening oral histories, and presentations crafted by the Campus Y’s diverse student groups. For more information on the event, click here.

To listen to Bill Ferris, senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South, and Hudson Vaughan, program director of the Campus Y, talk about the Y’s influence on the university click here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Multimedia E-Book on the Blues

UNC Press has just published its first “enhanced e-book,” a multimedia Kindle edition of Bill Ferris’s Give My Poor Heart Ease:  Voices of the Mississippi Blues. This is exciting news for blues fans, because the audio and video discs that are bound into the back cover of the print edition are now available throughout the e-book at a click.

This is also exciting news in the world of publishing.  The format is so new that the multimedia edition works only iPhones and iPads via the Kindle reader application.  Yes, you heard that right.  UNC Press does not (yet) have a contract with the Apple online bookstore.  And although your PC is a multimedia device, the multimedia portions of the book do not work via Kindle’s PC application (yet).  Barnes & Noble would like to offer the multimedia e-book on the Nook, but Amazon has an exclusive (for now).  Complicated, isn’t it?

“Yet” and “for now” are the operative words.  If I may venture a prediction, it is only a matter of time before the reading devices and applications become interchangeable, and e-books enhanced with multimedia content become commonplace.

Voices of SNCC: Penelope Patch

At the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s 50th anniversary conference, we sat down with activist Penelope Patch, who worked for SNCC between 1962 and 1965 in southwest Georgia and Mississippi. Stay tuned for more video …

Penelope Patch from Southern Oral History Program on Vimeo.