The AFS Cultural Diversity Committee is proud to announce the recipients of the inaugural Gerald L. Davis Project Pathway Award. The Project Pathway provides funding for projects that participate in community scholarship in action, and that keep communities connected, whole, and active.
In memory of folklorist Gerald L. Davis and in partnership with the AFS Cultural Diversity Committee (CDC), the American Folklore Society provides a limited number of grants, ranging from $500 to $2000, to foster the participation, inclusion, and affirmation of persons of color who are invested in community development. Gerald L. Davis was a celebrated folklorist, scholar, and activist whose work centered around the study of African American expressive culture and building African American and African communities and grounded in cultural exchange, research, and development.
2023 Gerald L. Davis Project Pathway Awardees
- ShaDawn Battle, Assistant Professor of Critical Ethnic and Black Studies, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Project: Establishes three teams of three footworkers who will create choreographed routines that honor the lives of Black folks whose lives have been lost locally and/or nationally, at the hands of the police, the medical industrial complex, the criminal punishment system, or as a result of environmental racism. The goal of this project is to create community among Black youth in Chicago Footwork culture to heighten their socio-political consciousness, surrounding multiple forms of anti-Black violence.
- Roman Chacon, New York University, Department of History, King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center
Location: Washington Heights, New York
Project: Host three community storytelling events and conduct five interviews with people across the Washington Heights neighborhood to contribute to the People’s Heights project, which aims to counteract the dominant historical memory of the Washington Heights neighborhood, preserving the lived histories and urban lore by offering the memory of past struggles as the basis for future organizing. Stories will be shared through zines that will be collaboratively produced with a local artist and made available to community members. Funding supplies recording equipment, publicity, zine graphic design and printing, and community space rental.
- Jeremy Dennis, Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio Inc.
Location: Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center at Seneca Nation, Shinnecock Indian Nation territory, Southampton, New York
Project: An exhibition at Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio about the history of the Thomas Indian Boarding School. The goal of the exhibit is to build community and reveal shared stories among descendants of the ancestors of the boarding school in order to learn more about the historical traumas and forced assimilation sponsored by the United States Federal Government and Christian Church. Funding will support the display of wall panels as well as hosting community programs around art-making in response to problematic histories.
- Atim Eneida George, Antioch University
Location: Mitchelville, Maryland and Liberia
Project: Conducting, transcribing, and analyzing oral history interviews and archival materials related to the life, leadership, practice and legacy of the late President Dr. William R. Tolbert, Liberia’s 20th Head of State. Materials collected for the project will be donated to William R. Tolbert University.
- Corey James Gray, Freestyle Mondays
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Project: Support for Freestyle Mondays, an inclusive event that celebrates Hip Hop culture and provides a space for artists to come together and showcase their creativity, hone their skills, and build meaningful connections with other members of the community. Freestyle Mondays Gameshow battle is different from other rap battles because it emphasizes positive and uplifting creativity. No direct insults are allowed in the competition, and participants focus instead on clever wordplay and inventive rhymes that tell a story or convey a message.
- Darren Lopez, Dual Language Teacher, District of Columbia Public Schools
Location: Loiza, Puerto Rico
Project: Collaborate with educators to engage Esu, the Most Misunderstood Entity in the Universe, a graphic novel that puts Esu (the Yoruba Orisa) on trial to defend himself using the teachings of Ifa. The graphic novel challenges the demonization of traditional African religions. Funding supports consultation with an education-based folklore organization that can assist with developing a project with K-12 educators.
- Ashley Minner Jones with Tiffany Chavis and Stanton Lewis (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina)
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Project: Safety in Numbers: Portraits of East Baltimore’s Reservation, an online exhibition hosted by baltimorereservation.com, featuring photographs sourced from various archival collections of American Indian people who were part of Baltimore’s “reservation” in its heyday. Funding supports honoraria for participants in the virtual opening event and technical support for the production.
- Dharamsing Teron, Centre for Karbi Studies
Location: Diphu, Assam, India
Project: Establishing a digital archive of Karbi folklore at the Centre for Karbi Studies to preserve and share Karbi folk songs, folktales, folk dances, life-stories, textiles and traditional clothes, jewelry, and rare photos, videos, and books. Funding supports a consultation with digital archival specialists.
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