This fall I am part of a team that is curating an exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen for KSU's Museum of History and Holocaust Education. The exhibit will be on display Nov. 17 - February, and then will begin to travel to schools for possibly the next ten years. That's a project that turns into our own small legacy within Kennesaw State. I am quite excited about this huge assignment. Below will be, at the end, the journal entries I write each week regarding my thoughts on class discussion, readings, and project development. The brief entries will chronicle each week of the class and the exhibit progress, until its opening on Nov. 17. By that date, I will be more knowledgeable about public history and capable of working on historical projects to benefit the community. And you're invited to the opening.
The more I read about putting together exhibits, the more excited I am to be part of a team that is putting one together. Having never really dug into the field of public history before, I am excited to see the impact public historians can impress on the community in which they work. It it such a subtle art. It is trying to teach people something without them realizing it, really; and it is making the information user-friendly and painstakingly clear. What an exciting challenge.
I have also been met with two separate and equally exciting reactions when I mention this class assignment. The first is, "Who are the Tuskegee Airmen?" This offers the obvious satisfaction of being able to explain, and then invite the friend/coworker/classmate/parent to visit the exhibit when it opens. The other reaction has been, "What a great topic! I know a guy who knows one of them..." While this second one has obviously been less often, I was still able to learn about those several people who were very knowledgeable about the Airmen and learn a little about their perception of and thoughts about them. One of my coworkers in particular knew an Airmen that had lived next door to him in Alabama several years ago, and offered his phone number for a chat. Potential conversation, respectfully declined but with a open invitation should I want to speak with him later. Overall, my discussion with people has given me the inspiration to really make this an exhibit people can take with them when they leave, in the form of a powerful, lasting memory.
I have also been giving the titles some thought, and am looking forward to seeing where everyone else has wound up after mulling over last week's brainstorming session. We made some great progress, and my notes were full of thought-provoking panel topics. Looking forward to developing our plan further on Tuesday.