One of the best aspects of family reunions is bringing together older generations with newer ones. As grandparents learn about the latest pop culture icons, and Millennials discover more about their roots, a bond is formed between the generations.
Recently I discovered an oral history project that has recorded interviews with over 100,000 people in the last 12 years. StoryCorps is making history come alive through recordings in unique ways. One story that caught my eye was an animated short movie by a black woman who was on the forefront of voting rights. She told the story of what she and others had to endure to get her neighbors registered in the South.
Claiming to have the “largest single collection of human voices ever gathered” StoryCorps is embarking on a massive new project that everyone in the country can participate in. It’s called the “The Great Thanksgiving Listen.” Over Thanksgiving weekend, high school students across the country will interview their grandparents or other elders using the StoryCorps app.
The app, which launched in March, helps facilitate interviews by suggesting questions, but more important, allows users to upload directly to the Library of Congress, making StoryCorps accessible to people who live far away.
Other initiatives by StoryCorps include the Griot Initiative, a joint project with the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture; the Historias Initiative, which focuses on interviews with Latino Americans; and LGBTQ program OutLoud.
StoryCorps’ app was developed with a $1 million TED prize and has received an additional $600,000 in funding from the Knight Foundation
A project of this magnitude will have a significant impact both on the so-called generation gap and on journalism. The interviewing process will give families a unique way to bond. Younger people will have a better appreciation of what their older relatives may have had to endure. It will also help clear up some myths younger people may have about what life was like “in their day.” There is a tendency among some young people to think nothing existed on earth until they arrived. Hearing stories of the not-so-distant past can put history into perspective.
Another benefit is how the Thanksgiving project will level the field. Because it is open to everyone, there will be many stories told that may not otherwise be heard. It reminds me of why I started Inglewood Today. The people of Inglewood were being portrayed mostly negatively in mainstream media. Their lives were being represented through the lens of poverty, crime, gang activity, etc. There was no balance.
Having a diverse archive of stories, representing every ethnic group, income level, educational, political and religious status is an accurate reflection of what America looks like in 2015.
I am looking forward to hearing some of the stories shared. If you want to participate in this project, visit https://storycorps.me/