Student presentations on Resisting Racism primary materials research set for April 19

Student-faculty partnership leads to class archival research and exhibit

Published 04-15-2016

by Maureen McGavin

Donna Troka (standing at left), American Studies adjunct assistant professor, and Gabrielle Dudley, Rose Library instruction archivist and QEP librarian, help students in Troka's Resisting Racism spring semester class work with the library's civil rights collections. Emory Photo/Video.

Students in a class focused on the civil rights and Black Lives Matter movements found a rewarding research experience in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, and they will talk about their research on Tuesday.

Members of Donna Troka’s class “Resisting Racism: From Black is Beautiful to Black Lives Matter” will give presentations on their research on Tuesday, April 19, from 1-2:15 p.m. in the Rose Library. The research resulted in an exhibit called “Resisting Racism: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter,” which opens the same day; both the presentations and the exhibit, open to the public, will be located in Rose Library Teaching and Learning Studio, on Level 10 of Emory’s Robert W. Woodruff Library.

The American Studies class of 19 students represents a variety of disciplines, including business, sociology, history and women’s studies. The students formed six groups to work on topics such as policing, education, protest tactics, white supremacy/white privilege, gender/sex and respectability politics, and health. They conducted their research using primary source materials in the Rose Library.

Their work resulted in the exhibit, with the students selecting the displayed materials with assistance from Gabrielle Dudley, Rose Library instruction archivist and QEP librarian.

Troka, adjunct assistant professor in the Institute of Liberal Arts and associate director of the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, says although writing a paper has its own value, this kind of student-faculty partnership encourages a different, more tangible learning outcome.

“When they were finding things, some of them were calling me over, wanting to show me,” Troka says. “It was exciting to see that discovery process.”

Those discoveries included unexpected little surprises. Sophomore Sia Beasley, a human health major working with the papers of educator and civil rights activist Constance W. Curry, was intrigued to find a handwritten grocery list on the back of a document about a conference on health and race.

“It just reminds you that the people you read and hear about are real people who existed, lived, and wrote down what they needed at the grocery store,” she says.

“Another thought that I had upon going through these documents was that the papers that I am touching right now have also been in the hands of very important civil rights activists,” Beasley adds.  “There is something intimate about holding a letter that was written by Arlen Specter and sent to a Southern Christian Coalition leader. You feel more connected to what you are learning, which allowed me to develop a more passionate connection to my work.”

The exhibit will remain on view during regular Rose Library hours through Aug. 1, 2016.

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