Living the Legacy

Oral Histories Commemorating 50 years of African Americans in Residence at William & Mary
August 31, 2017 to May 10, 2018

In 2017-2018, William & Mary is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of African Americans in Residence. The theme of the anniversary is Sankofa, which, in the Akan language of West Africa, reflects the idea that “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.” The commemoration slogan, “Building on the Legacy,” derives from the Sankofa teaching that we must know and understand our past in order to move forward and make the most of our future.

As a part of the commemorative efforts, William & Mary’s oral historian, alongside Special Collections and the 50th Anniversary Committee, is recording the stories of alumni, faculty and staff in an effort to gain a greater understanding of the experiences of African Americans living on campus during these first fifty years.

Living the Legacy is a dynamic exhibit featuring the intricate, inspiring stories of African Americans who experienced these inaugural years firsthand and who broke barriers for the generations to come. Throughout the year the exhibit will grow, with new panels being added for each story we collect. Ultimately, this exhibit will convey pieces of the stories of alumni, faculty and staff; stories of finding community, overcoming adversity, owning the experience of being at William & Mary, and navigating the challenges of being “the first.”  

If you or anyone you know would like to contribute to this project by sitting for an oral history, please contact Oral Historian Carmen Bolt.

Images of the exhibit are available from Swem Library on Flickr


Curators: Carmen Bolt, Oral Historian; and Azana Carr, Mosaic Intern; with assistance from Mallory Walker, Mosaic Fellow. Graphic Design: Jennie Davy, Exhibits Manager. Fabrication and Installation: Ashley Gonzales, User Services & Student Supervisor; Jennie Davy; Dana Florczak, Special Collections Student Assistant; and McKenzie Long, Special Collections Student Assistant.