Judy Harrell, Janet Stovall, Dana Lemon, and Jeffry M. Brown, 1985
Originally authored by Phoebe Son Oh ’21 in “Investing in Radical Black Feminist Counterhistory,” further annotated by the Archives staff.
last updated on 02.10.2021
The picture above is of Judy Harrell (left), Janet Stovall (middle), Dana Lemon (right), and Jeffry M. Brown (back) on January 1985. This candid shot is a beautiful depiction of everyday community amongst Black women and femmes at Davidson. The women all wear casual clothing and are smiling and looking directly at the camera. For this photo analysis, Pheobe specifically focused on Janet Stovall, who is the woman in the middle. When Pheobe first saw this image in the archives, she was immediately drawn to Janet. The two things that stuck out to Pheobe about Janet in this photo are her smile and the way she has her arms gently placed on Dana Lemon. Pheobe found this image in the existing archives but could not identify who these women were, as their names were not cited. She was shocked when she learned that Janet Stovall was in this picture, because even though she did not know what she looked like, she already knew who she was because of her work and involvement with Project ‘87. She also knew that she had been recently elected to the Board of Trustees for the College, which was a monumental win. Janet Stovall was also a part of the committee for the College’s Commission on Race and Slavery.
Even though Davidson has continuously benefitted from and profited off of Janet Stovall’s labour through the years, she is still somehow erased from the archives and her significance to Davidson’s history and efforts for social change are trivialized (see Amendment 1). It is here in the counter-archives that we can applaud the work that Stovall has done for Davidson, while simultaneously critiquing the university archives for not citing her. What also makes this picture an invaluable addition to a radical Black feminist counterhistory of Davidson is that Janet Stovall is not captured here performing labour for the college, but she is captured in an intimate moment with her friends as she grins from cheek to cheek.
Annotation 1 on 02.08.2021. Upon further research by the Archives staff, we excavated metadata from the Archives’s legacy catalog system for a more concrete citation of the photograph. We also recognize the inaccessibility of archival materials due to COVID-era. The names of each person in this photograph are written on the back of the photograph. Therefore, the lack of digitization and access to the physical material inform the critiques and created the difficulties expressed by Phoebe.