Posted 628 days ago
My takeaway from this is, absolutely, let's go do this. Another Federal Writers' Project would be an amazing treasure trove for history. As Smith mentions, it can include a number of things from our history:
Imagine if the government were to create a new Federal Writers’ Project. One committed to collecting, documenting, and sharing the stories of Black people who lived through Jim Crow, of Japanese Americans who lived through internment, of Holocaust refugees who resettled in America, of veterans who fought in World War II and the Vietnam War.
We could also include the 2008 Financial Crisis, and even the COVID-19 pandemic once we manage to come out of it.
But also I don't want to downplay its focus on Black Americans. Through the attention and influence of White America, Black Americans are often left behind simply because they are a minority. And that's not even counting the proactive discrimination that Smith recounts, as a Black neighborhood in Durham, NC, had to fight the building of a highway right through its community in the 1970s:
Listening to Freeland tell this story, I thought about how remarkable it was that in this same place where formerly enslaved people had built a community for themselves after generations of bondage, Black people once again had to defend themselves against a government that was attempting to take away a sort of freedom.
These stories are crucial for America history, and as Smith says, they are simply not taught in school. We are taught the superhero stories, of Rosa Parks and MLK (which of course are true and inspirational), but also hearing the words of the everyday Americans, just like us, could put things more into perspective and help us learn from the downfalls of our own history.