University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) students have collaborated with the StoryCorps Griot Initiative to collect interviews of Birmingham-area African-Americans in an effort to preserve their stories in an oral history collection. (Griot is a West African word meaning “storyteller.”) Ten of the narratives will be featured on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during an open house at the state-of-the-art Digital Media Commons located on the third floor of Heritage Hall, 1401 University Blvd. The event is free and open to the public.
Featured interviews include civil-rights foot soldiers; a musician and poet; Birmingham Mayor William Bell; and Alabama’s first black federal judge, U.W. Clemon. The StoryCorps Griot Initiative has a mission to “ensure that the voices, experiences and life stories of African-Americans will be preserved and presented with dignity,” said Rosie O’Beirne, director of digital media and learning at UAB. The stories were edited by students as part of UAB’s Digital Story Telling/Oral History course.
|StoryCorps Griot Project Open House 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Reception 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013
Heritage Hall, third floor
The open house is among the highlights of a year-long series of events hosted by the UAB College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) to mark the 50th anniversary of the transformative year of 1963 and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
A full and detailed schedule can be found at www.uab.edu/civilrights. The website, which showcases the stories of many of UAB’s African-American graduates, also lists specialized courses in CAS related to civil rights. The college’s efforts are part of UAB’s overall involvement in “50 Years Forward,” the City of Birmingham’s ongoing commemoration of the anniversary. More information can be found at www.uab.edu/50yearsforward.
About UAB and 50 Years Forward
As an institution committed to service, excellence, diversity and community involvement, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is a proud partner with the City of Birmingham in 50 Years Forward, the ongoing 50th anniversary commemoration of the seminal events of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. UAB is joining with others to mark this enduring legacy in a way that looks to the future — to sharing new knowledge that benefits society, to advancing the cause of human rights while educating tomorrow’s leaders and to improving quality of life for all. Learn more at www.uab.edu/50yearsforward.
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) senior Brittney Bass Gray had just finished a week of finals during the summer 2011 semester when, out of the blue, she found herself facing an even greater challenge — breast cancer.
“I was single, trying to graduate and support myself through school,” said Gray, a 25-year-old psychology and mathematics major. “It was a surreal time.”
The Birmingham native is one of five women featured in “The Alabama Project: The Civil Rights of Health Care,” a collection of photographs that show young women battling breast cancer. The black-and-white images are a subset of “The SCAR Project: Breast Cancer Is Not a Pink Ribbon.”
The Scar Project is a series of large, striking portraits of breast cancer survivors from across America who bravely display their physical scars. Fashion photographer David Jay captured the photos for both collections. They will be presented in a free, public exhibition at the UAB Visual Arts Gallery from Jan. 7-31, 2013.
“I think they are incredibly inspirational people,” Jay said of the women. “They were just so honest and open and beautiful about it.”
When Gray saw the photos of her on display — one of her preparing to get an MRI and another showing her wince while a nurse pricks her arm — she was moved to tears.
“I never thought they would want to take my picture because I didn’t think I was that important,” Gray said. “I pray it inspires someone. Even if it’s just one person, I will feel my journey hasn’t gone in vain.”
Today, after 20 weeks of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and more than six weeks of radiation, Gray is cancer-free. She plans to return to school this summer and complete her degree.
“Despite the obstacles, that still remains a goal for me,” she said.
The Alabama Project is co-sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure North Central Alabama and the Susan Mott Webb Charitable Trust. Cynthia Ryan, Ph.D., associate professor of English, and John Thomas Fields, interim director of the Visual Arts Gallery, produced the show.
“Once you are diagnosed with breast cancer your life is never the same,” said Ryan, herself a two-time breast cancer survivor. “As we move forward in the fight, it is important that we look within the individual stories to see what the experience is really about.”
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