Using these images, we connect ourselves to a recuperative, redemptive memory that enables us to construct radical identities, images of ourselves that transcend the limits of the colonizing eye.”hooks, b. (1994). In Our Glory: Photography and Black Life. In D. Willis (Ed.), Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography (pp. 43-53). New York: The New Press.
Picturing Black Study
Since the founding of the Africana Studies department at Davidson College in 2013, faculty, students, and staff have been intentional about documenting the growth and development of “Africana Studies” on campus. In 2014, the inaugural department chair Dr. Tracey Hucks worked closely with Jan Blodgett, the college archivist at the time, to collect written texts, such as meeting minutes, event programs, oral histories, and newspaper clippings of student protests, to record this momentous accomplishment in Davidson College’s history.Read More
The history of Black study at Davidson may have started earlier than 2013 with courses about, and programming for, people of African descent. For instance, what might a photo reveal where Rosie Molinary ‘95, the first student to graduate with a major in African-American Studies (Center for Interdisciplinary Studies), and her academic advisor Nancy Fairley, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, are embracing at a graduation ceremony? Might this image challenge the notion that Africana Studies began in 2013?
In 2015 the groundwork for this project began. Dr. Hilton Kelly offered the first Africana Studies capstone course with a focus on racial segregation in the United States, titled “Picturing the Jim Crow South.” In this course, students drew upon the James Gibson Peeler photographic archive at Johnson C. Smith University, which captured urban Black life in Charlotte from the 1940s to the 1990s. With the requirement to select, analyze, and present photos, as well as to create a photo exhibition, students drew upon the promise of Africana Studies as a discipline and their knowledge of the Jim Crow South to offer a different lens on everyday life under state-sponsored racial segregation through oral and visual representations. Ultimately, the goal was to use photographs or images to supplement written texts and to analyze these images to uncover untold stories.
Building upon such efforts to document the history of Africana Studies at Davidson, the Fall 2020 Africana Studies capstone group, taught again by Dr. Hilton Kelly, approached the Archives and campus community for photos about Black study at Davidson in general and the Africana Studies Department in particular. With the history of each photograph recorded via print and oral sources, we charge a new conversation about the legacy of Black study and Black studies at Davidson.
Fall 2020 Africana Capstone Photo Exhibitions
note: some authors have opted to remain anonymous.Read More
The black boxes open photo exhibitions created by the Fall 2020 Africana Capstone group. In total we analyzed 49 photographs. Photos revealed sites of learning before or beyond the classroom, a tradition of Black student activism, joy and love within dysfunction, and other opportunities to deepen our consciousness about Black life in and around Davidson.
Limitations arose within COVID-era and a fragmented archive. We stress that the stories told here remain incomplete and encourage further annotations.
The list below includes those in the Fall 2020 Africana Capstone group. We appreciate their hard work and dedication to bring this project into fruition.
- Dr. Hilton Kelly
- Anisha Dhungana ’21
- Gabby Thomas ’21
- Margaret Parker ’21
- Oge Ibida ’21
- Phoebe Son Oh ’21
- Sarah Jane Kline ’21
- Ramona Davis ’21