A New Fellowship To Explore White House’s History Of SlaveryHistorians in the News
tags: slavery, fellowships, White House history
As protesters took to the streets across the country earlier this year demonstrating against racial injustice and the death of George Floyd, institutions of all types asked themselves what they needed to do to better address America’s legacy of racism and inequity.
For the White House Historical Association, which sits a block from the White House but is a private nonprofit organization, one answer was to commit more resources to its ongoing research of the history of slavery in the nation’s capital and in the White House itself.
Last month, the association announced the creation of a joint two-year fellowship with American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center for a graduate student to continue the work.
“The creation of this fellowship is an important opportunity to deepen our understanding of slavery’s enduring legacy in our nation’s capital,” said Stewart McLaurin, the association’s president. “The protests that have erupted this summer over issues of racial injustice are a stark reminder of how important this work is.”
Mia Owens, a first-year graduate student in AU’s public history program, was selected as the inaugural fellow. Owens, 23, grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and immersed herself in the civil rights history of her hometown. She says the opportunity to do this work at this moment in American life is crucial.
Because of the pandemic, Owens will remain in Alabama for this semester and begin her work with the association from a distance. But that isn’t diminishing her enthusiasm for the project.
“I think especially right now, when so many people are focusing and having conversations about racial injustice in the country . . . it is so important that we as historians also contribute to that field and look at this history that has been overlooked for so long,” Owens said.
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