Meet the Inaugural Connecting Communities Digital Initiative Grant Recipients

A collage containing images of the 2022 CCDI Grant Recipients. The three images include Huston-Tillotson University, Kenton County Public Library, and Maya S. Cade.

The Library of Congress is delighted to announce the inaugural recipients of the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) grants for Higher Education; Libraries, Archives and Museums; and Artists/Scholars. These recipients will create projects that imaginatively remix and reuse the Library’s digital collections in concert with their own materials and collaborators.

Higher Education: Huston-Tillotson University

Huston-Tillotson University (HT) is the inaugural recipient of the Higher Education grant. HT is a private, non-profit 4-year historically Black university located in Austin, Texas. HT will receive $59,575.67 for their project.

Starting this month, Bree’ya Brown, Katrina “Katie” Ashton, David Sylvia and 8 undergraduate students at Huston-Tillotson will begin development on their project, “Harlem Renaissance Meets Huston-Tillotson University.” As part of the project, students will study Harlem Renaissance-era photographs from the Library and the university’s own archives and will develop creative works that reimagine Austin’s place and relationship to Harlem. After careful study and research of selected photographs, students will produce new literature, art, dance, and fashion that reimagines Austin and Harlem. Students will also build physical and virtual exhibitions based on their creative work. This multimodal approach allows students and Austin residents time and space to learn more about the Harlem Renaissance, to understand Austin in the 1920s and 1930s, and to discuss and compare Black cultural production across time.

Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Kenton County Public Library

The Kenton County Public Library (KCPL) is the inaugural recipient of the Libraries, Archives, and Museums grant. KCPL, which provides services to the residents of Kenton County, Kentucky, will receive $52,080 for their project.

The city of Covington, Kentucky, is an urban border city situated on the southern shore of the Ohio River directly across from downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. The historically Black Eastside neighborhood has long served as a cultural center for African Americans across the Northern Kentucky region. This project seeks to illuminate and preserve the legacies, lives and experiences of African Americans in the region. The Kenton County Public Library, in partnership with the Center for Greater Neighborhoods, and phrie worlds, an artist-in-residence, will collaborate with cross-generational residents of the Eastside and neighboring communities to use the Library of Congress’ digital collections about Kentucky as a catalyst for artistic and media production by and for residents of the past and present. The Library’s digital collections and materials will be paired with listening sessions between youth and elders and will form the basis for coding, quilting, traveling and digital exhibitions, design interventions, and other forms of storytelling. Community members will have the opportunity to collaborate with artists-in-residence that have ties to this community.

Scholar-in-Residence: Maya S. Cade

Maya S. Cade is the inaugural recipient of the Scholar-in-Residence grant. Cade is the creator and curator of Black Film Archive, a living register of Black films from 1915 to 1979. During her two-year residency at the Library, Cade will work on her project titled, “Black Film Archive: Tenderness in Black Film.” She will receive $50,000 in her first year and $100,000 in her second year.

Cade’s Black Film Archive will draw on the vast digital collections at the Library by working with librarians, archivists and preservationists in the Moving Image Research Center to make a much larger corpus of films more accessible to the public. Moreover, Cade’s tenderness prompt will create space for the public to think more deeply not only about Black film but also about the possibilities and necessities of tenderness (as critical metadata) in digital collections. Through social media engagement, a dynamic digital annotated bibliography, and a short film, Cade will guide us in the vital task of (re)imagining what tenderness has and can look like in libraries, archives and cinema.

CCDI is the primary digital component of Of the People: Widening the Path, a multi-year, Library-wide program supported by the Mellon Foundation. This program encourages creative uses of the Library’s digital collections to amplify the lives, experiences and perspectives of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.

For more about the Library’s historic Of the People initiative, click here. To learn about the next round of grants, subscribe to the Of the People blog here.

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