To me this project seemed like a brilliant idea. It’s one thing to love history and read about it, but to create something like this that may help educate others is a dream come true. To have students doing research on their own campus to find things out about lives that have walked the very grounds they walk on is eye opening. I know this won’t be a happy tour all the time, I’m sure like the other schools before us our content won’t always be the positive spin we want to have. But going into the past is not always pleasant. We as a class want to find out what the lives of the black community were like on our campus. But we won’t just stop there, our campus has had many different homes which we will also discuss in our tour. We want to know how the black lives, past, present and future, have and will shape the Kean life on our campus.
The first step to creating our tour was to come up with a great name that will draw students in, with this The BlacKeaning was brought to life. We want to illuminate black lives at Kean, past, present, and future. After we got our name and context down the next step in our process was to find out where, who, what and why. In this part we have chosen what each student was interested in and split into our groups. There is a lot of subject matter we must all cover and its best if we all have a group to help us bounce ideas off of. Knowing we can only have just a few minutes to talk about each subject is going to be the tough part.
My group has Liberty Hall, which is the original house on campus that the Kean family resided in since the late 1700’s until 1995. While this site is full of history and black history, on our tour we met many dead ends to our questions, which means we will have to dive into the archives to find what we need. I know the one story I was interested in finding out more about was an enslaved woman who had testified on behalf of her mistress in a divorce trial. I want to know more about her, what happened to her after the trial and her daily life. Knowing we have limited time on this section that will be the start of our tour since this was the start of black lives on our campus I’m weary of whether or not her story will be told or should we cover the basics of enslaved lives in the house.
The next point of discussion in my tour is that of our Newark campus. The questions I need to find answers for are: Was the Newark riots a big reason why we moved our campus back to Union? When did we move to Newark? Were black students enrolled at the time? Did any of the students participate in the riots? What happened to those students? What were parent’s reactions? How did staff handle everything? I am hoping that since this was in 1967 finding the information I need will not be as hard as the Liberty Hall research.
My group’s final stop will be at our own Human Rights Institute. I was shocked to learn that we did not have this building till 2010 and that the group wasn’t even having meetings until 2008. I feel that this should have been something that was a part of our campus much early on. We pride ourselves on being such a diverse school, and to not have something like this on our campus till recently was disturbing. I want to find out what caused them to start this group? What are their goals? Does it help any students? What is their main reasons for having this? Who were the founders?
We have a lot to look into for just three locations, and we need to decide; what is the important parts to high light on our tour? It’s always good to have the additional information for questions that might be asked on a tour. Those are also things we need to look into and know. I know when I go on tours places and they don’t have answers for me it is a bit of a disappointment. We want this project to outlast our semester working on it, we want future students, current students and residents to take our tour and learn about our history, and even if it might not paint things in the light we hoped it would. We want to know and share what black lives on campus were like and what the future holds for the new ones.