me in the Land of Lincoln

me in the Land of Lincoln
my alleged work face

my work desk

my work desk
my junky work desk where I do my research at the office

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Week 2

I apologize for the late update. Well, here goes:

Monday - I spent the ENTIRE day at a workshop talking about nothing but Abraham Lincoln. It was informative. I realized that I really have a job to do as a historian. I received some great advice in regards to graduate school. Go to the school where you will get the most help. Don't go to a school just for the name. Find out everything you can from the faculty and student perspectives. I went home and prepared myself for the following day.

Tuesday - Research. Nothing exciting.

Wednesday - More research. Updated my list of names for my research.

Thursday - Even more research. Prepared for my visit to the Presidential Library Friday.

Friday - After carrying my TSU umbrella for almost 2 weeks, it finally rained. I was wondering if my plea with TSA at the security check in Dallas was really worth it. It could be worse, I could be in one of the flood areas of the state. I went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. The exhibit, "Something So Horrible: The 1908 Springfield Race Riots" was being set up in the lobby. I was almost late to my appointment in the manuscript room looking at it. The photos tell such a great story. I was reading the panels. As I turned a corner, there was a Ku Klux Klan display. It almost scared the mess out of me. You can't just have an exhibit like that without warning. Technically, there was a warning for parents saying that there were some images and words that may be a little harsh for children, but hope that it will start a dialogue. There were cemetery burial records and pieces of the trees that some of these people were lynched from. So of course I'm in tears. I'm always at a history display crying. (as my Mom would tell me, "shut up all that dern hollin.")Spent my entire day looking at letters, pictures, and genealogy charts at the Presidential Library. I know, how exciting. I'm used to an office job where I sit for several hours and concentrate. I think I warranted concern from the staff. They kept asking if I were ok or if I was going to take a break. But, they are a great group of folks. I was in the room and this woman approached me. She asked if I were an employee or a researcher. I advised her I was a researcher. She asked me where I was from. I told her. She asked if I went to the University of Houston. Mind you, I have on a maroon shirt with TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY displayed on the front. I thought it was a rhetorical question. She asked me if I was going to the Fisk Jubilee Singers concert. I gave her a brief history of the ensemble. She look surprised as if the story may have been a fable. I dismissed it and I finally left. I came home in just enough time to get ready for a concert by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. My first thought was a documentary I watched in my African American Lit class at TSU. So I have to report to Dr. Betty Taylor-Thompson and tell her "thanks for the knowledge." The concert was great. I truly enjoyed myself. Not to mention, I looked quite fashionable with a dress shirt, jeans, white loafers, and some white and silver accessories. Afterwards, I stopped at a local pizzeria. I knew they were Italian. I just thought it was funny that they started speaking Italian once I arrived. It's like the nail salon experience. You know they are talking about you but you can't figure out what they are saying. Anyhow, got a cheese pizza and walked home. Settled in for the night.

Saturday - Enjoyed my morning in bed. I explored the city a little more. I can sleep better knowing that there is a beauty supply and a nail shop within walking distance. Just because I'm spending a majority of my time in the library doesn't mean I have to look disheveled. I met my housemate. He's a dear. Our first bonding experience was a grocery store run. This store didn't require a deposit for a shopping cart. I came home and settled in for the night.

Sunday - Called and left a message for my dad for Father's Day. Bonding event # 2. Decided to go to a Lutheran church. A comedian once said, "If you haven't seen 'em pray, you have to go at least one time." Well, I did and my quota has been fulfilled. I'm a believer of Christ, but have a diverse group of acquaintances. Maybe I should have read "Lutheran for Dummies" or something. Anyhow, dressed in girly pink and my luminous smile to match, walked in. I got a few stares. I'll be naive and say it was because I was wearing a bright color. It was truly interesting. I opted not to take communion because I was a little unsure and they all drank out of the same cup. That is not cute nor sanitary. The sermon was interesting. The topic was based on Jesus calling the 12 disciples (or disciplines, according to Madea). Ok, we are on the same page. I was taking notes and everything. The minister's "topic" was about being a part of Christ's entourage. She talked about how some famous people always have a group of people around them. She talked about famous entourages in history. She started with the Founding Fathers. I was following her. Then she began, "Martin Luther King and his entourage..." I didn't know if I wanted to slide under the pew or stand up and ask her, "what the...?" She finished it by saying that his entourage worked for civil rights and made change so we can enjoy the rights and privileges we have today. It took all I had not to act out. Afterwards, they made it a point to greet me. I told them I was here doing historical research at the Abraham Lincoln home. They immediately made it a point to find a 30 page book of their church history starting in 1840. I was saying to myself, " I'm not here to research you." I graciously took the information and immediately left. I went home to rest before I went to a re-enactment of the Lincoln - Douglass debate. The event was ok, nothing special. After that, I went to the Presidential Library for a lecture/discussion with a leading Abraham Lincoln historian. He covered a lot of points. One interesting point he made was that blacks dislike Lincoln and that the Emancipation Proclamation was not worth the paper it was written on. If you don't read the fine print, of course you have a disillusioned view. I have to look at that document as a historian without regard to my personal race or gender. I hope I can truly do that. Afterwards, I went to speak with the state Oral Historian to see if he can provide any insight into my project. I introduced myself. I told him that I was researching Irish, Portuguese, and African American female hired help of Lincoln while he lived in Springfield. I asked if perhaps there may have been any information recorded in the WPA projects perhaps from someone who was alive. I knew there were some who were alive when Lincoln was in Springfield who died in the late 1930s. He suggested the local university. Then he said something that disturbed me. He said, "there is the African American oral history collection. I think that you would feel more comfortable with that." The way he said it seemed like an insult. I was thinking, " I know I'm one of only two people who have melanin enhancement in the room. I know he did NOT just say that." So, I kindly thanked him and left. I went home and settled in with a determination to do this project with excellence.

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