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Archiving Black America

Writer and editor Maya Millett speaks to the archivists working today to capture and amplify the stories of African-Americans, ensuring they are not forgotten tomorrow.

"We are our history," said James Baldwin. But how history is remembered depends on what materials survive, and who deems those materials worthy of preserving.

Maya Millett - a writer, editor and founder of Race Women, an archive project dedicated to honouring early Black American feminists - speaks to the archivists who are working to ensure the voices and stories of African-Americans are not forgotten.

As racism and violence against African-Americans continues, collecting, cataloguing, and preserving the truth has never been so vital in preventing the distortion of history. The historical record has the power to preserve legacies and shape identities - but it doesn’t write itself. History is an activity, and what makes it into the archives depends on the actions people take now.

With contributions from musician Rhiannon Giddens; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Director, Kevin Young; Julieanna Richardson, founder of The HistoryMakers (the largest collection of African-American first-person video oral history testimonies in the world); contemporary art curator Kimberly Drew (aka museummammy); and Fisk University Special Collections Librarian, DeLisa Minor Harris.

Presenter: Maya Millett
Producer: Sasha Edye-Lindner
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Release date:

29 minutes

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