Activating Heritage Presentation 2022 snippet


The Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collections (CAAMC) at Columbia College Chicago Archives & Special Collections highlight grass-roots organizations who worked to end apartheid in South and Southern Africa through protest, economic sanctions, and public awareness locally, nationally, and internationally.

Student researchers Bri Ramirez and Adiam Woldu present their project using oral histories to create a podcast at the Activating Heritage Conference in 2022.

In exploring the oral history interviews from CAAMC, both students felt surprised and awed by the richness of the collection. As keen enthusiasts for history and storytelling, the archives offered a space for them to engage with an learn from these activist stories for the first time.

In the oral history interviews the students noted a particular challenge found within activist coalitions in the Chicago area around the issue of single or multi-race participation. In those organizations in which people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds came together to bring attention to the racist Apartheid regime, their challenge became one of trust-building—a foundational value in insuring solidarity.

Reflecting on their research activities, the students describe the importance of approaching research with questions and an open mind. In her response, Adiam stated: “We had to work with the unknown, and looking back, developing a research question early on would have offered us some more guidance. The question can change but having a place to start is crucial.” Bri echoed these thoughts in her response: “A lesson I have taken from this is to be open-minded with research. When we started this project, we didn’t know what we wanted or which direction to take the podcast. So, while listening, we had to have an open mind to answers we did not expect.”