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An orange and white Library graphic of photos from each 2024 Community Collections Grant project

Congratulations to the American Folklife Center’s 2024 Community Collections Grant Recipients!

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The American Folklife Center is excited to announce the 2024 recipient cohort of the Community Collections Grants program. The grants are part of the Library of Congress Of the People: Widening the Path initiative, and are awarded to individuals and organizations working to document cultures and traditions of diverse communities across the U.S. Of the People: Widening the Path is a multi-year initiative that creates new opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library of Congress and to add their perspectives to the Library’s collections, allowing the national library to share a more inclusive American story.

An orange and white Library graphic of photos from each 2024 Community Collections Grant project The ten awardees began their projects in February and, over the next 12 months, will document musical, dance, festival, and agricultural traditions, as well as community cultural histories and activities in urban, suburban, and rural locations from the East and West coasts, the Midwest, and South and Southwest. The documentation they generate in their projects, such as musical recordings and video interviews with community elders, will become permanent collections in the American Folklife Center archives, greatly enhancing the nation’s historical and creative record.

2024 RECIPIENTS

 

Ashley Minner Jones

PROJECT: Beyond Baltimore Street

LOCATION: Baltimore, MD

DESCRIPTION: Beyond Baltimore Street is an oral history and photo documentary project that celebrates the vibrant, fascinating, everyday lives of Baltimore Lumbee elders, who manage to remain in community with one another despite the loss of their “reservation”—the geographic center they established for themselves as young people in the mid-twentieth century. One of the reasons their lives are so noteworthy is that they are transplants from one very specific place—the Lumbee tribal homeland—and they have enmeshed themselves in another very specific place—East Baltimore—and they act accordingly. They are the progenitors of a whole new culture that has been inherited and riffed upon by the generations of Baltimore Lumbee that descend from them. Over the course of a year, artist and folklorist Ashley Minner Jones (Lumbee) and photographer Jill Fannon Prevas will collaborate with 15 elders to produce forever-accessible records of their everyday lives and likenesses.

Chaldean Community Foundation

PROJECT: Chaldeans: Portrait of an Evolving Community

LOCATION: Michigan

DESCRIPTION: The Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF) will preserve stories about the America’s Chaldean community, a minority ethnic group from northern Iraq. Chaldeans bring rich cultural traditions that date back to ancient Mesopotamia. In the U.S., these traditions continue to evolve, especially during the past two decades. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, followed by the rise of ISIS, have resulted in thousands of refugees arriving in the United States, settling mainly in southeast Michigan. The community responded by establishing the Chaldean Community Foundation which now serves more than 40,000 clients annually. The influx of new arrivals and their immersion with established Chaldean American families has had a tremendous impact on the cultural make-up of the community.

CultureWorks, Ltd.

PROJECT: Time Out of Joint – Prisoners and Former Prisoners as Artists & Cultural Workers

Workers: Transformation, Storytelling, and Consciousness Through the Arts

LOCATION: Seattle, WA

DESCRIPTION: We are a community of mostly former -and some current – prisoners who became artists while in prison. Our art forms are mainly writing, including essays, poetry, monologues, and playwriting. Those of us who are free are teachers – using our arts backgrounds to inspire young people. Amiti Bey (incarcerated 40 years) and Kwame Mclean (incarcerated 15 years) will lead a robust documentation of our work and lives. The project consultant is Peabody Award-winning documentarian and oral historian Steve Rowland. The project will document our transformations through art and education. The documentation will include original writing; videos and audio recordings of us performing our works; videos of students reading our works; interviews with people who became artists in prison; we will even return to the prison to conduct interviews and performances with artists still in prison.

Florida International University

PROJECT: Documenting Goombay and Little Bahamas of Coconut Grove

LOCATION: Florida

DESCRIPTION: This project seeks to capture the intergenerational traditions and folkways of the Bahamian diaspora of South Florida. Building on existing oral histories, we seek to systematically document the continuing placemaking practices of this community at a time when social ties and cultural connections are becoming dispersed and displaced. Specifically, we will document how the ongoing tradition of the annual Goombay Festival in the Grove brings together a once tight knit community that is fighting to preserve their connection to the land of their ancestors. Youth living in the Grove will be engaged in a photovoice project, empowering them with the tools to participate in community storytelling by documenting life in the neighborhood.

Kamilah Thurmon

PROJECT: Evolution of Blacks in Ballet in Washington D.C.

LOCATION: Washington, D.C.

DESCRIPTION: The Evolution of Blacks in Ballet in Washington, D.C. highlights African American, Washington, D.C. ballet legends such as Sandra Fortune-Green, Beatrice Davis-Williams, Kahina Haynes, Lynn Welters, Therrell Smith, Virginia Johnson, Bernice Hammond, Doris Jones, and Claire Haywood. In Washington, DC, there is a rich history of artistic and cultural communities from diverse backgrounds. For African Americans in the field of ballet, this history has spanned from the early 1920s to today. Although professional and internationally acclaimed ballet and other dance troupes have only begun to accept Black members and award them the highest honors, ballet has been thriving in DC over the last 75 years due to the efforts of passionate community members who refused to accept oppressive societal norms.

Laura Grant

PROJECT: Returning to Our Roots – Documenting Traditional Nuwä Harvests

LOCATION: California

DESCRIPTION: Between December 2023 and November 2024, nuwä-led (Kawaiisu) community collaborators, led by Elder Lucille Hicks, will document ourselves, and other three older people, teaching at least 20 younger nuwüm (Kawaiisu people) the traditional gathering and preparation of at least 10 plants used for our Indigenous foods and medicines. We will document gather practices and the reflections of the participants. Our team will share video-based and photographic documentation techniques with the young as well so that they may partner in creating some project outcomes for archiving – contemporary documentation of nuwä gathering and preparation practices of at least 10 plants and the recorded impressions of the experiences of the elders and younger learners in carrying these practices forward.

Los Pleneros de la 21

PROJECT: From NYC to Puerto Rico: Documenting Evolving Practices and Perspectives of Bomba and Plena in the Diaspora

LOCATION: New York

DESCRIPTION: Los Pleneros de la 21 (LP21) collaborating Traditional Artists, LeAna López and Yesenia Lebrón-Romero, will work with Folklorist Elena Martínez, LP21 Founder/NEA National Heritage Fellow Juan Gutiérrez, and Master Artist Julia Gutiérrez, to document current community practices and the individuals and events who have influenced these practices over time in the traditional, community-based Afro-Puerto Rican music and dance forms known as Bomba and Plena. Focusing on NYC, surrounding Tri-State areas, and NY-Puerto Rico connections, this project will generate digital video interviews with key artists and community members, as well as photo and video documentation of community-based cultural events.

Nottawaseppi Huron Band for the Potawatomi

PROJECT: Indian Town

LOCATION: Michigan

DESCRIPTION: The overarching goal of this project is to capture, preserve, and archive first-hand accounts of Indian Town, Michigan while the sources who lived these experiences are available to share this important culture and history. Without knowing and understanding the history of Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) as a sovereign nation and a people it is impossible to fully appreciate how transformative and significant this change has been and how it contributes to the community’s culture today. Given the history of the boarding school movement which sought to erase the culture and languages of First Nations, efforts to revitalize, preserve, and share cultural and historical information with Tribal membership hold an even greater value in indigenous communities.

Nous Foundation

PROJECT: La Musique Nous Réunit: Documenting Louisiana French Music

LOCATION: Louisiana

DESCRIPTION:

La Musique nous réunit (Music brings us together) is a music recording and interview documentation project aimed at understanding how Louisiana musicians are adapting their cultural practice of performing traditional French-language music to a 21st-century reality where English is ever-present. This project will document Louisiana French music as it is played in 2024. In partnership with the Library of Congress, a team will conduct and film a series of semi-structured interviews with six French-speaking, Louisiana-based musicians and bands – spanning different genres such as Cajun music, Zydeco, and swamp pop.

Yvette Cohn Stoor

PROJECT: Sustaining and Reclaiming Cultural Danzas: Los Matechines Y Los Comanchitos

LOCATION: New Mexico

DESCRIPTION:Throughout New Mexico, there are Hispanic villages that struggle to carry-on the long-held tradition of the danzas de Los Matechines and Los Comanchitos. Los Matechines danza is performed on dates during fiestas honoring the Patron Saints of their affiliated Mission Churches. Los Comanchitos is a revived danza in remembrance of the assimilation of Indian captives into families and villages and acknowledging Genizaro identity (Spanish with Native American). The leaders of these groups persevere to educate and involve current generations to remember a deeply held bond within these communities. With education and exposure, there has been a slight uptick in interest. The goal is continued education and encouraging interest and pride in our shared history.

Congratulations to all! 

You can read about past recipients here, on the Of the People blog.

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