Volume 22,  Volume 22, Issue 2

RESPECT announces first group of awarded mini grants

The UC Libraries RESPECT (Racial Equity Support Programming to Educate the Community Team) announces its first group of awarded mini grants. The committee sought proposals from UC Libraries faculty and staff for programming designed for the University of Cincinnati and its community that explicitly addresses the role that systemic racism plays within society.

Four successful mini-grant proposals were awarded $1500 each:  

  • Amy Koshoffer, assistance director of research and data services, with RJ Boutelle, assistant professor in the Department of English, and Charity Winburn, associate director of the McNair Scholars, received support for Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon as part of the 2024 Black History Month programming. This group hosted a local installment of the annual Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon—an event celebrating the life and work of the Black activist and orator, Frederick Douglass. Pioneered several years ago by the Colored Conventions Project, now hosted by the Center for Black Digital Research at Penn State University, Douglass Day takes place each year on Douglass’s chosen birthday, February 14 (as an enslaved man, he did not know his actual birthday). Around the country, local organizers host events in which faculty, students, staff and community members gather to transcribe archival records, manuscripts, letters and other writing by prominent, but understudied figures from Black history.

  • Debbie Tenofsky, head of research, teaching and services, with Matthew Sauer, assistant director of accessibility resources at UC Clermont College, received support for programming on preventing systemic discrimination of people with disabilities. In April, they will host workshops, “Preventing Systemic Discrimination of Persons with Disabilities: How You Can Initiate the First Steps,” aimed at educating and promoting change and empathy related to the systemic discrimination of persons with disabilities. Matthew Sauer will facilitate hands-on activities and develop individual stories to give attendees a foundation in the systematic discrimination of persons with disabilities and challenge them to determine what transformations and next steps they will take for themselves as well as UC Libraries. The result of the workshops will be to envision a strategy for building a culture of inclusion at UC Libraries with the hope that the feedback from these sessions will lead to annual events regarding the impact of eliminating systemic intolerance in favor of equity. 

  • Chris Harter, university archivist and head of the Archives and Rare Books (ARB) Library, received support for speakers in relation to an exhibit on the 50th anniversary of Bronson v. Board of Education City and integration of Cincinnati public schools (September). The tentative title for this program is: “The Legacy of Bronson v. Board of Education and Educational Equality in Cincinnati: Where are We Now?” May 2024 will mark the 50th anniversary of the filing of the Bronson v. Board of Education case by the Cincinnati NAACP, which sought to end racial isolation in Cincinnati public schools. As part of an effort to highlight archival collections at UC’s Archives and Rare Books Library documenting this case, ARB plans to sponsor public and digital exhibitions on the topic, as well as a public conversation on the Bronson case, the lead-up to it, and the continuing legacy of the case and its settlement on Cincinnati Public Schools and education in the city. The RESPECT min-grant will provide support for speaker fees for two community individuals to engage in public dialogue on this topic for the UC and wider community. The goal is to seek historical scholars, education activists and/or a representative from the Cincinnati NAACP to take part in a public discussion. 

  • June Taylor-Slaughter, research and services manager, with MK Lamkin, associate professor and program director of Undergraduate Research, received support for Racial Healing Circles. UC’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (CTRHT) is part of a national network of such centers that exist to “bring about transformational and sustainable change” (healourcommunities.org). The name of the center is also the framework they abide to address systemic racism in communities and institutions. Their process emphasizes truth telling and facilitated dialogue as pathways toward trusting relationships and authentic ally ship. As authentic ally ship develops, so too does a cross-cultural commitment to advocacy for policies and practices that reduce racial disparities. June and MK will collaborate with UC’s CTRHT to pilot a program that guides a diverse cohort of staff and faculty through activities intended to generate racial healing, inspire authentic ally ship, and motivate effective advocacy. The cohort will be comprised of up to 20 faculty and staff with a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and will consist of biweekly in-person activities.

RESPECT has as its charge to use library resources to expand programming and resources that provide library users with the tools to understand systemic racism in order to begin dismantling it. The mini-grants program is one way it is working to meet its charge. In addition, the team plans programs, supports exhibits and educates about the harms and possible solutions to stopping systemic racism.