Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inaugural Black German Cultural Society, Inc. Convention Announced

Propose a Topic of Conversation, Present a Panel, or Attend and Learn

Don't miss this great opportunity to discuss the international dimensions of race and culture. The following is from the website of the Black German Cultural Society, Inc.

The Black German Cultural Society, Inc. is excited to announce its First Annual Convention to be held from August 19 to 21, 2011, at the German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, DC. With the theme of “Strengthening Transatlantic Connections,” the convention will host guests and presenters from our international community in Germany and the United States.

Our keynote speaker will be Noah Sow, the acclaimed journalist, musician, producer and author of “Deutschland Schwarz WeiƟ” (C. Bertelsmann, 2008), who will speak about “Geteilte Geschichte: The Black Experience in Germany and the US.”

In cooperation with the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, the convention will also feature an award ceremony for Hans J. Massaquoi, who will be given the “Champion of the Humanities Award” in honor of his lifetime achievements as an author, journalist, and cultural ambassador.

Additionally, the convention will feature a photo exhibit on "The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany," and "Homestory Deutschland: Gelebt - Erlebte Schwarze Deutsche Geschichte(n)."

Furthermore, the meeting will offer workshops, round tables, as well as panel discussions on Afro-German history, culture and literature facilitated by our board members, partner organizations, and distinguished academics in the field.

Confirmed participants include, among others:

Vera Grant (W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University)
S. Marina Jones (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Maria Hoehn (Vassar College)
Leroy Hopkins (Millersville University)
Martin Klimke (GHI Washington)
Priscilla Layne (University of California, Berkeley)
Yara-Colette Lemke Muniz de Faria (Berlin)
Sara Lennox (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Amilcar Shabazz (University of Massachussets, Amherst)
William Strickland (University of Massachussets, Amherst)

Topics will include “Race and Ethnicity in Postwar Germany,” “Transatlantic Adoption and ‘Brown Babies’,” “Finding and Reuniting Birth Families,” “Black German Jewishness” as well as “Sharing our Stories,” among others.

We would, however, also like to give participants the opportunity to present during one of our panel discussions, facilitate a workshop, or contribute to the convention in other ways. Please inform us of your interest, ideas, and potential topics.

Monday, June 20, 2011

DC Community Heritage Project Symposium 2011

7th Annual Symposium to Highlight the Work of Former Grantees and Introduce New Digital History Techniques

The Humanities Council of Washington DC's annual Summer DC Community Heritage Project Symposium will be held Tuesday, June 28, from 6-8:30PM. The event will take place at the Deanwood Recreation Center and Library just across the street from the Deanwood Metro Station. This year's symposium is all about “making connections.” Each of the three sessions will explore opportunities for local history buffs to connect with each other and connect with the past.

The first session will introduce the local cemetery as an historical text. Conspicuous on the city-scape, yet secretive with their stories, cemeteries are often overlooked as a community history resources. Anne Brockett of the DC Historic Preservation Office and Tyrone General of the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery Perpetual Care Foundation will discuss how cemeteries can be coaxed into revealing the hidden heritage of a neighborhood, and the unknown stories of the deceased.

The second session will demonstrate a project that seeks to identify “neighborhood griots.” A griot is a person whose memory serves as a repository for a community's stories. Nearly every neighborhood has at least a few people who can draw on historical information passed down from generations, to enlighten, enrich, and educate those willing to listen. Historian Carrie Thornhill will discuss her efforts to identify neighborhood griots, and how her project can be replicated in other communities.

The third session will showcase software designed to help historians research, as well as organize and disseminate their findings. Sharon Leon of the George Mason University Center for History and New Media will discuss the growing field of digital history and will demonstrate some of the Center's valuable tools.

RSVP today for this FREE opportunity to learn how you can make connections with unorthodox historical texts, with others interested in community history, and with the living past! Register by visiting, calling 202-387-8391, or emailing

Friday, June 10, 2011

DCCHP Grant Awardees Poised to Spread the Word About Neighborhood History

The Grantees Were Honored Last Night at the John A. Wilson Building

This year the following organizations will receive funding for projects aimed at preserving and disseminating the history and culture of Washington, DC neighborhoods:

  • John Eaton Elementary School Home School Association - for their project "John Eaton Elementary School Website." 
Jenny Dieterle (left) accepts the award on behalf of the
John Eaton Elementary School Home School Association
from Humanities Council Board Chair, Marianne Scott. 

Tyrone General of the Woodlawn Cemetery
Perpetual Care Association with Scott
This year's class of grantee organizations is ready to produce a diverse collection of educational materials of city-wide interest and importance. Thank you to all who applied!

Funds for the DC Community Heritage Project are provided by a partnership of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC and the DC Historic Preservation Office, which supports people who want to tell stories of their neighborhoods and communities by providing information, training and financial resources. This DC Community Heritage Project has also been funded in part by the US Department of the Interior, the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund grant funds, administered by the DC Historic Preservation Office and by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Human vs. Machine - History Theatre Version

Is a Human or a Robot More Suited to Teach Us About the Past?

Frederick Douglass' life is regularly taught to school children through living history theater. In 2008, THEARC DC received a grant from the Humanities Council to carry on this tradition in a whole new way; their performance made use of a life-sized animatronic Douglass. In 1992, the Humanities Council supported a living history performance in which Frederick Douglass was portrayed by actor and educator Fred Morsell. Morsell was able to teach the students about Douglass' life before getting into character, and was able to resolve the performance as himself at the end. Check out the footage from both events to compare and contrast. Which is the better method of teaching about Douglass' life? Is there room for both animatronic and flesh-and-blood human living history performances? What are the benefits and challenges associated with either method.

Animatronic Performance at THEARC DC

Morsell's Performance at Orr Elementary