Storytelling as a tool to develop Culture, Community & Capacity-Building
I am honored to be the storyteller for History and Reconstruction, a collaborative history project between Phillip Seitz (historian) and Reconstruction, Inc. (William Goldsby, Chair), a grassroots organization for post-incarceration reentry and reintegration.
Alumni ex-offenders, together with historians, a psychologist and a storyteller seek to answer the question: How can deep knowledge and exploration of African American history impact lives?
The purpose of the storytelling component of the project is to craft stories drawn from archival research related to slavery and other traumatic history. Cohort members from Reconstruction, Inc. will hear and discuss historical research revealing numerous acts of resilience, resistance and reciprocity carried out by Africans under this oppressive reality. They will learn to craft new stories by combining historical knowledge with elements of African and African-American folklore, culture, oral history and their personal insights. In the process of crafting and sharing these stories, cohort members will reclaim and strengthen a sense of resilience, self-determination and dignity to utilize as they become leaders, raise families and build community.
The storytelling component has been designed to compliment Reconstruction, Inc.’s capacity-building curriculum. (See Reconstructing Rage: Transformative Reentry in the Era of Mass Incarceration (Black Studies & Critical Thinking: Spirituality & Indigenous Thought) by Townsand Price-Spratlen and William Goldsby.)
Ideally, public storytelling performances at the conclusion of the project will demonstrate the role of expressive cultural arts (traditional and modern) in identity, continuity and the struggle for justice.
This will be a year-long initiative, and is made possible by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. For more information about this project visit the website for Reconstruction, Inc. or grantee and project manager, Phillip Seitz, History for Healing.