Telling Untold Histories

by Monica Mercado

On Friday, April 9, Emma and Grace (along with Brenna Levitin ’16) facilitated a conversation on student research at Telling Untold Histories, the first unconference in the South Jersey/Philadelphia region devoted to public history theory and practice. We quickly managed to meet all of the Bryn Mawr College alumnae in the room!

Mawrters at Telling Untold Histories, April 9, 2015 (photograph by Monica Mercado).

Mawrters at Telling Untold Histories, April 9, 2015 (photograph by Monica Mercado).

Notes from the session, Students Telling Untold Histories, are available online via Google Docs.

The Black Revolution on Campus

by Monica Mercado

Today at 4:30 p.m., historian Martha Biondi, author of The Black Revolution on Campusjoins the Swarthmore College community to close the 2015 Black History Month Celebration. Swarthmore’s “Stand UP! Speak OUT! Black Student Activism in the 1960s” 2015 celebration theme draws attention to their new digital project, the Black Liberation 1969 Archive — a site that suggests possibilities for future work on our own campus histories.


“The Black Revolution on Campus: Black Students and the Transformation
of Higher Education,” featuring Martha Biondi Professor of African American Studies & History at Northwestern University

Thursday, February 26 – 4:30 p.m. – LPAC Cinema [link to campus map]

Activism rocked American campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Black students were at the forefront of this nationwide youth uprising, and they helped push the Black freedom struggle to embrace the radical transformation of higher education. The students faced strong resistance but they won many demands, leaving a legacy that profoundly reshaped campus life in the 1970s and beyond. A reception will immediately follow the talk.

Engaging “Backtalk”: Decolonizing Bryn Mawr’s African Art Collection

by Grace Pusey


My sketch in response to the “Backtalk” exhibit at Bryn Mawr College, February 21, 2015.

On Saturday, February 21, 2015 I attended the Creative Workshop engaging the Backtalk: Exposures, Erasures, and Elisions of the Bryn Mawr College African Art Collection exhibit in Canaday Library. The workshop, facilitated by Whitney Lopez, Class of 2015 and Alice Lesnick, Term Professor of Education and Africana Studies Coordinator, encouraged students to respond to the exhibit via writing, visual media, and performance. The exhibit itself showcases 35 artworks pertaining to various aspects of family, political, and spiritual life and invites viewers to “[…] engage questions of what the collection includes, leaves out, clarifies, and obscures, as well as how the collection came to be and how it functions within and beyond the College.”1 Because creativity is not my forte I was hesitant to participate in the workshop, but I forced myself to go for two reasons. First, I felt strongly that the questions the exhibit poses about Euro-American legacies of colonialism in Africa and Bryn Mawr’s relationship to them were relevant to the Black at Bryn Mawr project. Second, I felt it would be terribly opaque to focus solely on the “hidden histories” of Black experiences at the College revealed to us in archived documents while overlooking spaces on campus where Black students, faculty, staff, and their allies are already questioning Bryn Mawr’s representation of its history, challenging its master narratives, and speaking truth to power.

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  1. Museum label for “About the Backtalk Exhibit,” Bryn Mawr, PA, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections, February 21, 2015. []

Welcome to Black at Bryn Mawr

((crossposted from Educating Women, the Greenfield Digital Center blog))

by Grace Pusey

This semester Emma Kioko and I are collaborating on a Praxis III independent study course titled Black at Bryn Mawr, a project that will illuminate the history and experiences of Black students, faculty, and staff at the College. Using Bryn Mawr Special Collections as well as primary sources archived outside of the College, we are analyzing the ways in which Bryn Mawr has chosen to record, remember, and represent racism in its history. Using the archives, we are identifying spaces of both racial conflict and conversation on campus in order to develop a final project in the form of a campus walking tour and a digital historical record.

Follow the Black at Bryn Mawr blog, tumblr, and Twitter hashtag #BlackatBrynMawr

Bryn Mawr College Teach-In on Race, Higher Education, and Responsibilities, November 2014.

Bryn Mawr College Teach-In on Race, Higher Education, and Responsibilities in Thomas Great Hall (November 2014), via Educating Women blog.

The project was born out of several community-wide conversations that occurred after two students hung a Confederate flag in their dormitory in September 2014. Emma came up with the idea of doing a campus walking tour modeled after the Black and Blue tour at the University of North Carolina, where she spent time last summer. Because I work at the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) in Philadelphia, I offered to help create a digital historical record to complement the tour. In this way, Emma and I are working to create multiple avenues to engage with Black history at Bryn Mawr. We hope the walking tour will prompt community members to look at the campus and experience the place we inhabit in new ways, and that the digital historical record will function as a complementary space of deepened historical consciousness.

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