UNDER CONSTRUCTION 

The Griot is an institution dedicated to the collection, dissemination, and production of Africana people’s stories—oral history, folklore, documentaries, and narratives using a digital format and the Internet. The Institute was the brainchild of Derrick Lanois, PhD but was inspired by a family of storytellers. One of the storytellers was my great aunt—Zettie Bee who told oral history intermixed with folklore and humor. On February 6, 2014, she passed away at the age of 95 but she left us with plenty of stories and laughters. I dedicate The Griot to her memory and indelible spirit. .

Mary (MawMaw), Alene, Tennessee, Zettie Bee, and Carrie Mother and daughters
Mary (MawMaw), Alene, Tennessee, Zettie Bee, and Carrie
Mother and daughters

African Americans have an orality to their culture and pass down history, culture, and ideas. Family history, community history, folklore, and culture is being loss everyday as two generations join the ancestors. In addition, many African Americans believe history was made by famous people in politics, entertainment, religious, and activism. Unfortunately, scholars fall prey to this paradigm because it is easier to study because they leave behind records. The Center endeavors to create a paradigm shift by collecting and disseminating the life stories of everyday African Americans. We will seek out ALL African Americans to gather their stories and how their stories intersect different institutions (education, business, fraternal, religious, community, region, gender, folklore, cooking, folk medicine, etc.) and socihistorical and cultural moments. The Center will is divided into four parts—the Institute, Digital Archives, Digital Storytelling, and Oral History and Folklore Collection.

African Americans have an orality to their culture and pass down history, culture, and ideas. Family history, community history, folklore, and culture is being loss everyday as two generations join the ancestors. In addition, many African Americans believe history was made by famous people in politics, entertainment, religious, and activism. Unfortunately, scholars fall prey to this paradigm because it is easier to study because they leave behind records. The Center endeavors to create a paradigm shift by collecting and disseminating the life stories of everyday African Americans. We will seek out ALL African Americans to gather their stories and how their stories intersect different institutions (education, business, fraternal, religious, community, region, gender, folklore, cooking, folk medicine, etc.) and socihistorical and cultural moments. The Center will is divided into four parts—the Institute, Digital Archives, Digital Storytelling, and Oral History and Folklore Collection.

 

male African school teacher holding a clipboard

The Institute is the educational leg of the Center. It will teach oral history, folklore collection, family history collection, and digital storytelling. The courses will be held in a series both on the campus and in online modules. The Institute will teach going through archives, newspapers, and other sources to aid in their family history and other project. We have learned from crowdsourcing and will have our graduates donate their projects to the Institute. We will transcribe, digitize, categorize, and disseminate their findings. This allows us to reach communities and people we may possibly never reach. The Institute will also teach digital storytelling including documentary filmmaking, documentary photography, blogging, and podcasting.

Alte Fotos 11

Digital Archives will house all of the digitized materials and make them accessible to the public. In addition to the crowdsourcing material, the Center will conduct digitizing projects with historical institutions such as fraternal orders, churches, educational institutions, and even libraries and archives. Material culture collection will seek artifacts such as newspapers, photography, video, etc.

The Center will produce digital stories including documentaries on the Africana experience—historically, culturally, and currently. We will also produce a weekly podcast keeping people apprise of the Center, new additions to the collection, and happenings in the community.

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Lastly, the oral history and folklore collection division will conduct its own oral history and folklore projects.

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