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Juneteenth Scholars Program

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Category: culture Video duration: Juneteenth Scholars Program

In June 2020, in response to the protest movement against police brutality and the efforts to federally recognize the significance of Juneteenth, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech established the Juneteenth Scholars Program. This program supports the college's faculty to conduct research aligned with the themes of the Juneteenth holiday: emancipatory movements, processes of collective liberation and the courage of freedom leaders, and local, national, and global resistances to ongoing systems of oppression. 

Each faculty scholar is paired with an undergraduate research assistant who works on tasks such as collecting and organizing materials, conducting interviews, and analyzing results. Through this partnership, students learn how scholars develop research projects centered on questions of history, ethics, power, and justice and help shape the project’s research questions and goals. 

In this video, you will learn about four of the sixteen research projects conducted by the Juneteenth Scholars.  

Human ingenuity and imagination or foundations for resilient communities. When we believe in ourselves and in each other, we are better able to face our challenges with confidence and courage. I want to share a few reflections on my Juneteenth scholars research. Last year, I was honored to be part of the first cohort of this innovative college program that connects discipline-based inquiry to broader questions of quality of life, social justice, and change. My research investigated grassroots organizing and US-led social movements. I was primarily interested in how black students at predominantly white institutions were navigating their social justice efforts. I collected data on motivation, organizing strategies, and political efficacy. Or the degree to which we think we can influence political change through our participation in political processes. And what ways were student-led movements for change influenced or affected by movements and our wider communities. What were the successes and failures? To what extent were student demands met as a result of their organizing between 2014 and 2020. While much of the research done on political efficacy focuses on individual action and electoral politics. I felt it was important to take a look at collective efficacy, the margins of electoral politics. Since so much of our history as black people engages the community outside of formal institutions and structures. I was fortunate to work alongside Alyssa Marshall, a phenomenal student and research assistant who approach this project passionately and with so much resolve. Thank you so much to Dane Bell Monte and our college team who made this research possible. In addition to being a political activist, social Raphael ma Werner, author and diplomat, Black American abolitionist Frederick Douglass was also a political philosopher. As the June heat scholar, I've had the opportunity to study Douglas is distinctive understanding of what it means to be a citizen. In my current book project, seizing citizenship, Frederick Douglass, abolitionist republicanism. I argue that Douglass defines the citizen as a person who contributes to the nation. This idea of citizenship has a bad rap for a good reason. It has been used throughout the history of political thought to marginalize unit, exclude those whose contributions are not valued and indeed are often exploited by the nation. But when you mostly at Douglass speeches, autobiographies, editorials and correspondence both before and after the Civil War. We see that he radically revises what it means to contribute to the nation. For Douglas, we contribute by taking our vision of what the nation should value and connecting it in everyday life. Enslaved black Americans, Douglas argues, seized American citizenship for themselves, not only through grand acts and revolt, but also everyday acts of resistance against slaveholders and care for one another. Through these everyday acts of resistance and care, enslaved black Americans declared to the nation that they matter. This declaration through resistance constituted enslaved black Americans as members of the American people who the nation was obliged to acknowledge has such. Douglas's political philosophy captures the spirit of Juneteenth as celebrated. Not a project that has been completed, but the ongoing struggle for freedom and justice. And Latisha and brassiere Cardozo Brown, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and 2021 Virginia Tech Juneteenth scholar. My book project aids and understand and connections between the Juneteenth holiday, contemporary struggles against institutional racism, the exposure of structural inequality and support for vulnerable populations via the study of black women, black feminism, and sport. In an institution in which race work centers. Black men and gentle work, white women. My book centers the stories and voices of black women and girls, as it were collaboratory project in the spirit of Juneteenth and black feminist praxis. The Black Lives Matter movement of 2020 have intensified request for more just and inclusive representation of the past. The Juneteenth scholarship has allowed me to document steps taken in this direction at War museums and memorials. For instance, inulin, the National World War II Museum is about to launch an exhibition on the experiences of African Americans in the military. These exhibitions are important. Not only do they make marginalized groups visible, they also record their different experiences. For instance, during segregation. The most exciting thing for me about the Juneteenth scholarship was to collaborate with the talented young researcher, Jessica. I'm okay. Jessica drew my attention to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. We took special interest in the memorial in Poston, Arizona. This is a place where between 1942 and 945, the US government incarcerated 17 thousand people because of their Japanese ancestry. This memorial is special because it's a collaboration between survivors of the camps and the Colorado River Indian Tribe whose land was requisitioned to build the camps. It's therefore a testimony not only to the increased oppression that some groups experienced during the war, but also to histories of survival and select solidarity between minority groups. Overall, what we document is inclusive commemoration. It's important to show that war is not only a theater for heroism. It also takes place amid structural inequalities that are often intensified but also transformed by war. And these are important lessons for us in the present.