My approach: The lessons that we need to learn about collective resistance are found in the stories of folks who have decided to make a difference in this world.
Listening to folks stories, you learn what matters to them, you hear their challenges, their strengths and their dreams.
You also learn about – and from – their analysis of the events that have shaped their lives.
Stories of resistance, woven together, provide a map about how social change happens over time; not to be copied thoughtlessly, but to learn from and gain inspiration and skills.
This is what has moved me to study oral history and to apply popular education methods to amplify lessons within stories so that they are accessible.
As a consultant and educator, I am available to support your oral history research as a consultant or presenter, Examples of recent workshops are here:
Current and recent work:
Founder and Oral Historian, The Picture the Homeless Oral History Project. I began with my most recent work at Picture the Homeless. Over a 17 year period working with Picture the Homeless, I was deeply inspired by the courage and resilience of homeless New Yorkers who chose to fight for the human and civil rights of homeless folks. Building a grass roots organization that deeply impacted the social justice movement was something that needed to be documented. However, beyond merely constructing timelines of events and victories, it was even more important to listen to the long time leaders of Picture the Homeless who shaped those events and victories – as well as bumps in the road – to learn what those things meant to the people who planned and implemented the work that made them possible. It was important to listen to leaders, staff and allies to learn about the powerful relationships formed through struggle, and what conditions made them possible and where Picture the Homeless fit in the ecosystem of movement organizations.
We are in the process of archiving the vast collection of photos, videos, reports, press clippings, notes, and testimonies. The archive tells us what happened when but it is the long form oral history interviews which tell us what those events meant to the folks at Picture the Homeless who planned those events, carried them out and reflected on their impact.
The first Picture the Homeless mural, at CHARAS on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the location of PTH’s first public meeting.
Examples of Popular Education Materials from the Picture the Homeless Oral History Project are below
and here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1qWhWVynhRM51a-YNsBb3OGMgAn1oNsPX?usp=sharingEducation.Collective-Resistance.ArvernettaHenry.FINAL_
Oral Historian and Narrative Consultant, The Jean Rice Story: a memoir and social history of the United States, based on dozens of oral history interviews with Jean Rice, an 82 year old formerly homeless social justice leader in NYC. Moving from South Carolina to Harlem with his mother and extended family during the Great Migration in the 1940’s, Jean contextualizes his life story within critical historic moments in U.S. and world history, supreme court cases, and social movements while challenging white supremacist policies and anti-black stigma that forms the basis of the public policies which impact his daily life.
The following story of how Jean got his name is an example of his approach:
Oral Historian, The NYC Covid-19 Oral History, Narrative and Memory Archive at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) at Columbia University. As a member of a team of dozens of oral historians, I’ve conducted interviews with homeless New Yorkers and homeless advocates about their experiences during the pandemic to ensure that those stories are included in the historic record of our collective experience with COVID-19.
For more information on this critical and beautiful oral history project, please see: https://incite.columbia.edu/covid19-oral-history-project.