The University of New Mexico (UNM) is one of CCDI’s 2023 Higher Education recipients. The team began their project this past April. Dr. Natasha Howard, team lead, is an assistant professor with a joint position in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies and the Department of Africana Studies at the University of New Mexico.
UNM is receiving $49,977.85 in support of their project, “Remember the South Broadway—Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Oldest African American Community.” For their project, Dr. Howard will be working in conjunction with UNM graduate students to develop a digital zine to document and amplify Albuquerque’s earliest African American neighborhood.
Olivia Dorsey, a Program Specialist for the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative, interviewed the Dr. Howard to learn more about her project plans.
Congratulations on receiving a CCDI Higher Education award! Can you tell us about your project?
Dr. Natasha Howard: The idea of this digital project started with oral history interviews I began in 2019. I took part in an oral history workshop in the Voces Oral History Summer Research Institute at the University of Texas Austin. I decided I would take the skills I learned there and create an oral history project on Albuquerque’s first African American neighborhood, The South Broadway.
As I interviewed current and former residents of the neighborhood, one point came up again and again, participants feared people would forget the vibrant history of African Americans in South Broadway. They wanted people to remember the South Broadway and the contributions of African Americans to the city of Albuquerque. I decided at that point that a digital project could be a way to make the history of African Americans in Albuquerque accessible to a much wider audience. I started to see so many interesting digital educational projects that were free and accessible on the web. Additionally, digitally I could revisualize important parts of the history that were no longer there—like the once thriving Black business district that has since been displaced.
In your project proposal, you highlighted a number of Library digital collections you’ll work with, such as the African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection. How did you identify which materials you’ll explore for your research?
Dr. Natasha Howard: As a researcher, I was already aware of the vast collections that are available at the Library of Congress. I researched the collections online. The Library has an excellent website that details what is available.
Because my project will highlight three aspects of African American history in Albuquerque, New Mexico: Migration, Community-Building and Civil Rights activism—I looked to see what collections at the Library might highlight these themes. By researching the website, I was able to see that the Library houses a large collection of photos, documents on the Great Migration, as well as a significant Civil Rights archive. I will make use of these collections. In particular, I am interested in photos, African American newspapers, and other documents which explain key aspects of the history of African Americans in the Southwest.
For your project, “Remember the South Broadway—Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Oldest African American Community,” you will be developing a digital zine. What is a zine? Could you share.
Dr. Natasha Howard: Typically, a zine is a small self-published or independently published work that can include photos, images, and written material. It is often more informal than other kinds of mainstream published work. A digital zine means that this product has been digitized and can be more widely accessible. When I think of zines, I think of projects that push the boundaries and do not conform to the restrictions of the academic publishing industry. Yet these zines are often useful for teaching and learning about subjects. The zine that I plan to produce will include the aesthetics of a zine but will also include important lessons on African American history and geography in New Mexico. It will include photographs, oral history snippets, film, textual material, and maps. Digital zines make it possible to have a variety of elements that would not be available in a printed zine.
Students are an integral part of your project. Can you tell us more about the significance of their role on this project?
Dr. Natasha Howard: Students will have an important role in producing the digital components of this project. I plan to work with students in digital and media arts, as well as film and photography programs. This will expose media arts students to real world experiences in creating digital humanities projects.
The third round of the CCDI Higher Education opportunities are now open. What advice do you have for those who are interested in applying?
Dr. Natasha Howard: My advice is to think about how your project could make use of the vast resources available at the Library of Congress and apply! Also, think about what specific deliverable you can produce in one year. That is not a lot of time. So, what is manageable? What project do you have that creatively highlights the lives of communities of color? The most important thing you can do is apply!
Application Open until Sept 7, 2023: Apply Now!
Are you a higher education institution looking to create a project that centers communities of color and uses the Library’s digital collections? Check out the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative’s award opportunity: www.loc.gov/programs/of-the-people/represent/higher-education-application/!
CCDI will select up to three Higher Education projects for awards of up to $70,000 each.
Applications are open until Sept 7. APPLY NOW!
CCDI is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path program with support from the Mellon Foundation. This four-year program provides financial and technical support to individuals, institutions and organizations to create imaginative projects using the Library’s digital collections and centering one or more of the following groups: Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color from any of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and its territories and commonwealths (Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands). Learn more about CCDI here.