Event Title

On Objects and Voices: The Intersection of Oral History and Archaeology in the Case of Shule Ya Kujitambua

Presenter Information

Ella Murray, Oberlin College

Location

Virtual presentation

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2020 8:00 AM

End Date

5-2-2020 5:00 PM

Abstract

Shule Ya Kujitambua, translated from Swahili as School of Self Realization, was a school founded in Oberlin, Ohio during the 1970s. The Shule was part of a network of African Free Schools and a push for African centered education in the United States by the Council for Independent Black Institutions. This project puts oral histories and primary source documents in conversation, operating under theories of community-based learning and material culture to uncover one part of a national story. Community members are the experts of this history, and their interviews become objects of the archive. I focus on the individuals and the material culture associated with the Oberlin Shule because of its opposition to Oberlin as a racial utopia. Through this project, we uncover the ways public schools have failed Black students in the past and how Black community members have and continue to resist. The timeliness of this project is two-fold; the two elementary schools that were the main focus of racial integration efforts in the 1960’s are scheduled to close next year, and Black students on campus are currently working to reopen the Shule. A historical record of the racial discussions surrounding the reorganization of the schools and the response to Shule’s opening are not consolidated anywhere in the college or town archives; this project strives to be the first source of its kind to be used by those working to improve the schools of Oberlin today.

Keywords:

Racism, Education, Black history, Civil rights history, Oberlin College, Oral history, Integration, Public schools, Afrocentric education, Contextual archaeology, Entanglement theory

Notes

Click here to view this poster at the Office of Undergraduate Research website from April 27-May 2, 2020.

Major

Archaeological Studies; History

Project Mentor(s)

Tania Boster, History
Amy Margaris, Archaeological Studies

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Apr 27th, 8:00 AM May 2nd, 5:00 PM

On Objects and Voices: The Intersection of Oral History and Archaeology in the Case of Shule Ya Kujitambua

Virtual presentation

Shule Ya Kujitambua, translated from Swahili as School of Self Realization, was a school founded in Oberlin, Ohio during the 1970s. The Shule was part of a network of African Free Schools and a push for African centered education in the United States by the Council for Independent Black Institutions. This project puts oral histories and primary source documents in conversation, operating under theories of community-based learning and material culture to uncover one part of a national story. Community members are the experts of this history, and their interviews become objects of the archive. I focus on the individuals and the material culture associated with the Oberlin Shule because of its opposition to Oberlin as a racial utopia. Through this project, we uncover the ways public schools have failed Black students in the past and how Black community members have and continue to resist. The timeliness of this project is two-fold; the two elementary schools that were the main focus of racial integration efforts in the 1960’s are scheduled to close next year, and Black students on campus are currently working to reopen the Shule. A historical record of the racial discussions surrounding the reorganization of the schools and the response to Shule’s opening are not consolidated anywhere in the college or town archives; this project strives to be the first source of its kind to be used by those working to improve the schools of Oberlin today.