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Black Lives Matter 2020 by Brodie Harmon, they/them

June 15, 2020

Brodie Harmon, they/them, is a graduate student in the Art History department and works with public services, outreach and digital content here at Special Collections. 

“We cannot let the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor go unnoticed or unaddressed. Nor can we ignore the countless other Black people and other people of color who have lost their lives to senseless acts of violence. We must call out and condemn these racist acts, stand together in the fight for justice, speak out and enact change. On behalf of UTSA’s entire leadership team I want to convey to Black students, faculty and staff in the Roadrunner community that we see you and we will continue to fight alongside you. Black Lives Matter.”

UTSA President Eighmy released these words of support amidst the growing protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.  As a student, it is reassuring to know that I attend a school that is not afraid to speak up and show their support against racism and police brutality.  At the same time, I know many who feel very frustrated and want to show public support despite the equally growing Covid-19 pandemic.  In response, we the graduate students of Special Collections, are considering and creating projects that reflect not only the support of UTSA Library’s Special Collections, but also our own personal support. My fellow grad student, China Whitby, has a planned digital exhibition that includes black history and activism in the works, and I am creating this blog post to share resources for students interested in educating themselves more about how UTSA has taught Black Lives Matter in the past. 

In researching how UTSA has supported BLM, I discovered this:

Front page of class website showing class title in white superimposed over photo of black students laying down on the ground holding protest signs

#BlackLivesMatter: Critical Perspectives

This page has been archived by Special Collections here, and is a collection that includes physical collection material (such as the poster shown at the end of this post) as well as material in the Internet Archive.  According to the introductory page, “This course was first offered in the spring of 2016. After the semester finished, archivists from UTSA Libraries Special Collections gathered class materials and student work, then created this site in order to make the content available for further study and research.”  Looking under the Guiding Principles, you can find quotes and student project links about many facets that include Black families, justice, women, queer and transgender topics.  For those of you interested in finding more materials on critical race theory and the discourses covered in the class, the syllabus is posted along with the textbooks (most of which are available as ebooks through the UTSA Library), as well as the Learning Modules list of the online articles and videos.  This is like a gold mine, and gives people the opportunity to educate themselves with the plethora of academic and community-driven information in their own homes.  Another page that we have archived as a part of our preservation of UTSA Black Lives Matter material is #wematter, a blog created by black female students in the class in order to give a voice to intersectional feminism and personal experiences as black women in the STEM fields.

#wematter opening page showing a drawing of a black woman with natural hair with the hashtag superimposed in white over her face.

#wematter front page in the internet archive.

With the current covid-19 restrictions, some people may not feel comfortable going out in public and protest, but there are so many different ways to show support, with the first step being education.  I know I will read all of the materials provided by these fantastic sources, and I appreciate the Special Collections Librarians of yesteryear who gathered this course material and publicized it for future students and the community.  We must remember in these tense and emotional times, that one of the simplest things we can do is to create a discourse, understand that there is a problem with racism in this country, and learn to educate and better ourselves as a community.  We can continue to be silent no longer.  We at UTSA support Black Lives Matter, and here in Special Collections, we wanted to reiterate our support and help the spread of information by sharing this one-of-a-kind course material that our professors and students created in a handy blog post to give everyone a chance to virtually explore literature and materials about Black Lives Matter.  We also encourage students and friends who are curious about what else Special Collections has to offer to check out our archives of African American History and Activism.  We also have a completely digitized Guide to the San Antonio Black History Collection that consists of archived material including businesses, churches, schools and newspapers from our city’s black community.  While we are not physically open at this time, know that we are still here, and we support all of our students and hope for your safety as you navigate these tense times.

 

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