JSU welcomes historian, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells for oral history workshop

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(JACKSON, Miss.)— Jackson State University’s (JSU) Department of English and Modern Languages (EML) welcomes Michelle Duster, a public historian, author, and great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells, to an oral history workshop and panel discussion on March 28. 

The workshop aims to help registrants, whether they are beginners or fluent experts in oral history, initiate accurate storytelling and archiving on behalf of their families and communities. Participants will gain clarity on new and old ideas alike and be empowered to turn those ideas into tangible products. 

“It is always a joy to provide JSU students, faculty, staff, and the Jackson area community with cultural and educational events! What is so valuable about this oral history workshop is that it is a hands-on, participatory experience,” said Shanna Smith, Ph.D., interim assistant chair for the EML Department and an associate professor of English. 

“So often, we sit and absorb our programs as audience members. This time, the workshop is interactive, and there is a balanced mix of JSU students, faculty, staff, and Jackson area community members who have registered to further the work they are already doing to record and preserve family and community histories.” 

Registrants will have an opportunity to participate in two sessions to learn, grow, and enhance their capabilities as oral historians. 

Duster will start the day leading an oral and community history workshop titled “Controlling the Narrative: Chronicling Family & Communal History”at the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) Civil Rights Education Center. 

Later that day, in the Dollye M.E. Robinson Liberal Arts Building, she will join a panel entitled “Modern Day Lynching & Investigative Social Action,” facilitated by Danielle Littlefield, JSU assistant professor of creative writing. 

“As neighborhoods are being transformed, or gentrified, across the country, important and rich history is being erased. I believe we’re at a pivotal point where there is a need for concerted effort to make sure our truths, perspectives, experiences, and stories are documented, uplifted, preserved, and celebrated,” said Duster. “We cannot rely on others to tell our story for us. We have to do it.”

Duster says this event will equip participants with lifelong skills and undoubtedly be an experience they won’t forget.  

“It is important for the people who have the interest and ability to capture history to learn about the best methods, outlets, and resources to do it. I have worked on dozens of projects in different mediums over the past 30 years and can share my knowledge to help us collectively make a huge impact on the narrative of this country,” said Duster. 

“I’m excited to help others create and produce writing and public history projects so they can capture the rich and important history of our families and communities.” 

Margaret Walker Center Oral Historian Alissa Rae Funderburk will also share her expertise at the workshop. 

The EML Department invites students, faculty, staff, and community members to register here for this free, special event. Seating is limited and expected to result in a waitlist. 

This event is sponsored by The Institute for Social Justice and Race Relations at JSU and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

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JSU welcomes historian, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells for oral history workshop

By Jackson Advocate News Service
March 21, 2024