Wisconsin Community Activism Now Digital Archive

Hadiya Johnson, Pilar Sharp, Tiara Fountain, and Noor Mahmoud, “Wisconsin Community Activism Now Digital Archive”
Mentor: Rachel Buff, History
Oral Presentation Block 1

On May 25, 2020, the Movement for Black Lives was reignited with the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It led to an ongoing abolitionist movement demanding racial justice, an end to police brutality, and the dismantling and defunding of racist institutions and systems. As a result, a collaborative effort began, led by students and faculty from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, and invested community members, to digitize and archive social movements in the Milwaukee area and across the state of Wisconsin. As it must be, this work is ongoing as long as injustice exists in our society. It will feature source material from protests in the summer of 2020 and includes photos, videos, firsthand accounts and narratives, oral histories, news articles, timelines, geospatial images, press releases, and public statements from elected officials and community leaders. The platform for the digital archive is almost ready to launch, social media accounts have been made to share the continuous progress, and work has been done to engage with the local community and university organizations. The archive will help ensure that when it comes time to write the history of this movement, the story is told by its participants and not by those who seek to rewrite the events. The project is currently focused on documenting the current Black Lives Matter movement within the broader arc of Black-led struggles for police accountability and racial justice in Milwaukee across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Pedagogical and on-campus initiatives around this project and outreach and educational efforts in activist spaces and elsewhere off-campus will help frame discussions of anti-racist social change and societal transformation. The archive’s participatory model seeks, in turn, to move the needle forward on community-engaged scholarship and memory work.