My name is Addy, and I just wrapped up a brief but incredible two weeks interning at the Archives. During my time here, I dabbled in various aspects of archival work, from cataloguing mysterious boxes of print materials to learning to use reel-to-reel audio. A highlight of my experience was helping to develop a new collection of print materials about the Cultural Workers Movement, a 1970s movement of artists and other cultural workers to build a committed revolutionary and anti-imperialist cultural front. As an artist myself, this history was personally inspiring and thought-provoking!
My experience at the Archives certainly gave me a window into what archival work looks like. But for me, equally important was seeing in action the vital community and types of relationships necessary for the Archives’ radical and social justice work. Claude, Nathaniel, and all the other members of the Archives community were inspirational not just in the work they do, but how they do it. I felt welcomed with open arms. Their warmth, knowledge and commitment to local and global communities prompt me to reflect on my own role in my communities, in current struggles for justice, in the every-day work that these struggles call for. I am leaving the Archives with a renewed commitment to educate myself, and to constantly find ways, big and small, to aid in the struggles for justice and solidarity that are all around me.
These two weeks have flown by. I can say, without a doubt, that exploring the Archives collections was as much—or even better—an education than any I’ve received in a classroom. There is a profound power in hearing, reading, and seeing these marginalized histories and narratives directly. It wasn’t hard to get lost down the rabbit hole that is the Archives, that’s for sure. I felt privileged and humbled to actually hear the voices of resistance fighters, read through meeting notes on the work of artists to compact imperialism, view art and posters of resistance and justice. It makes me imagine a parallel universe: what if a core part of our public education system was to just let all students loose in archives like these? What would happen? How would students become more curious, more critical? How would minds be liberated? What movements would form, what fights, how would the future of our country and world be transformed? These typically erased histories, legacies, knowledge—they are vital. I hope that, like me, more people will find their way here to the Archives, making that parallel universe a little bit more of a reality.
P.S. Featured: “One of my favorite finds while exploring the Archives: a signed vinyl by Elaine Brown, former Black Panther chairwoman and activist, writer, and singer.”