American History · film · garden


I’m back home from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) meeting in New Orleans. It was great seeing old friends and meeting possibly new ones.

Among the highlights:

-hearing the many ways to approach historian John Blassingame’s early 1970s seminal study on the “slave” community at an off-site facility. I had a live tweet moment during the talk, which permitted me to think through how far we have come since this study. I could not have written Remember Me to Miss Louisa without access to archives that have appeared in university libraries and elsewhere since then. And yet, even without those libraries Blassingame is  in my footnotes over and over again. On their shoulders we stand.

-attending two screenings for two different films, both works in progress. One was by Lorraine Hansberry, a playwright whose “Raisin in the Sun” via a cable rerun of the 1961 motion picture based on her play left me in tears only three weeks ago. Why do the good die so young?

The other film addressed the experiences of warrior women like Madonna Mae Thunder Hawk and indigenous resistance from  the 1970s to the present-day. I was reminded again of how much we filmmakers put into work that takes years to complete – even with funding from well-known public and private backers. My hat is off to all those who shared their work at OAH. You remind me I’m not alone on certain often insane journeys.

In my hotel, one’s room number is featured on art hanging in the room. Wow.

-being in my hotel room the final night. How often does one get to just stop and read? And prepare for what’s ahead? In my case, lectures for my Am Civ to 1865 class loom. I’ll say good-bye to more than 200 students, mostly freshmen and sophomores and prepare to say hello to new ones next semester. I see their names dropping into the online registration basket. How to reach them? While at OAH, I enjoyed “free food” courtesy of a reception hosted by the people who create the AP test. Rich conversations were had about how students are being pushed to be “active” learners rather than  relying on rote memory.

-enjoying the ride back to Tuscaloosa via the Amtrak. The trip across LakPonchatrain was exhilarating even as I learned this line may soon be cut.

These blueberries remind me that there will be time this summer to make jam no matter what!

-returning home to see my partner had completed the task of turning over the soil for our garden. There, we will have raised beds as we let the soil rest this year. He bought a tiller. I guess we’re serious now.

Most delicious of all (and they aren’t even picked yet – the sight of blueberries blooming. Jam time.

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