Justice Fellow, The Equal Justice Initiative
Thesis Title: Curating Citizens: Educating through Visual Culture at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893
What Now: Justice Fellow, The Equal Justice Initiative
One of my favorite aspects of Hist & Lit was being able to think critically about the way history is taught and the way historical narratives are remembered and communicated to the public. Most formatively, I had the opportunity to develop a mock exhibit on the history of racial violence and explore how ground-breaking media such as daguerreotypes, photographs, and postcards shifted memory around the institution of slavery, the Civil War, and the era of racial terror lynching. While choosing sources for our syllabus during my Junior Year Tutorial, my tutorial members and I pushed each other to consider the way a wide variety of sources become the building blocks for how we remember history. The opportunity to think about these questions related to material culture and historical pedagogy is something I'm so grateful for during my time in Hist & Lit, and I can trace my professional interest in museums and public history back to sunny afternoons in the Barker Cafe.
Today, I get all the sun and heat I need in Montgomery, Alabama, where I work for the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit led by civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson. EJI is part law office, representing those incarcerated in Alabama's prisons, and part historical advocacy organization, dedicated to educating the public about the history of racial inequality through the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. EJI believes honestly confronting our past is necessary for changing the way injustices permeate our systems today. I primarily work on EJI's public education efforts, and have been involved in aspects of community work around EJI's memorial dedicated to victims of racial terror lynching between 1877-1950. I conduct archival research, communicate with educators about teaching the history of racial inequality, and get to observe, everyday, how the iconography of the American south shapes the way people remember the past. Being in Montgomery has taught me the importance of proximity and has pushed me to engage with competing historical narratives all around me -- a passion that I was fortunate to discover during my time in Hist & Lit.