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Biweekly Lunch and Learn opens dialogue on Black Digital History

This Wednesday, Karen Sieber spoke at the weekly Lunch and Learn on Black Digital History. Sieber, a humanities specialist, discussed sites and resources for learning more about often overlooked events and people in Black history and civil rights. 

Many of the resources depicted have detailed maps and timelines, plotting significant events and places throughout history. One of Sieber’s main focuses is on the Red Summer of 1919, an often overlooked but devastating period of race riots and lynchings that lasted for months. 

“The thing that may be surprising about the Red Summer is that these riots weren’t just happening in the South,” Sieber said. “While a great many of them were, the most violent riots were in places like Chicago and Omaha.” 

The map on the site color codes and plots the locations of the riots and can be organized by themes or by categories such as if troops or law enforcement got involved. 

One of the key people discussed on Wednesday’s Lunch and Learn was sociologist Monroe Work. Work took data on violence against African Americans in the United States. 

“Thanks to digital history,” Sieber said. “His works have been mapped out and time-lined, providing detailed data all the way up until 1964.” 

The inspiration for the 2018 best picture winner “Green Book,” Sieber described a 20th-century driver’s guide that gave African Americans traveling within the United States an idea of what stores and hotels they could visit without being harassed. A new version of the publication would come out every year, sort of like an almanac. These green books are accessible through the New York Public Library. 

Karen Sieber does research for the McGillicuddy Humanities Center, and at the end of her presentation, she mentioned more upcoming events. The current theme is “Cinema of Colonisation and Decolonisation,” which is a dinner and show series being held in the Hill Auditorium in Barrows Hall. On March 9, Professor Ernest Mathijs will host the film “Coffy.” 

Lunch and Learn events occur every other Wednesday, hosted by the Multicultural Center. All of these events give students the opportunity to interact with one another and observe a presentation that sheds light on a topic or issue that they may not have known about.



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