As a child, I never knew I would use my listening skills to capture history. I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, immersed in oral traditions and storytelling craft. However, it was not until I enrolled in a Civil Rights Movement undergraduate course taught by the late Civil Rights veteran Julian Bond that I saw the true potential for oral history as a way to recover and write history. Bond invited his fellow movement leaders to the course to speak to us, he featured an oral history text on the syllabus, and he screened the multi-part Eyes on the Prize 2: America at the Crossroads, 1965-1985, Henry Hampton’s documentary film series about the Civil Rights to Black Power phase of American History. During that class, I learned about the Black Panther Party and its community programs for the first time in my life, and, as a result, I decided to write my senior thesis on women in the Black Panther Party. My oral history collection began with that thesis writing experience.
I created this collection to honor oral historians and memory workers who spend their lives capturing the stories we all carry on the inside.