A place in time

One of my duties includes developing the timeline for the prototype. The timeline (along with its trusty friend, the map), we feel, is important because it allows us to situate ourselves and our viewers in a certain time and place, essential for understanding the issues of race, racism, and race relations in the United States.

While I’m pretty certain about the dates I feel we desperately have to include—you can’t talk about racism on a college campus without putting blacks on that previously all-white campus, so of course we need Sweatt v. Painter and the year 1950, to prove that if southern state governments did not provide equal college educations to black and white students, then they could not provide separate college educations to black and white students. We also need Brown v. Board of Education and 1954, which eradicated de jure racial segregation in the form of separate public schooling to black and white students. While these dates are easy to draw upon, others might be less obvious to the casual observer. Of course February 21, 1965, must be included because it’s the date of Malcolm X’s assassination, but what about including April 3, 1964, when he reached out to fellow black activists and indicated his hope that, despite their religious differences, they could work together to effect change.

All of these dates tell a story. I work to define what story we need to tell, and therefore, which dates are included or excluded in our timeline. As I work, I know that I am not portraying the entire story—such a thing is impossible—but our hope is that from this one, tiny story of this one point in the whole of human existence, many stories, other stories, different stories, will flow.

Telling the story, however, has been the challenge. First we toyed with the idea of just having dates and words, but that does not really fit with the techy savvyness (new word, I know) of what we’re trying to do. Then we talked about hyperlinks to pre-made webpages, but that was dismissed as not techy enough, too. We heard wondrous things about Timeline, but, unfortunately, it does not lend itself to how we need the timelines to function. Neatline fascinates me in a weird, nerdy, OCDish (another new word) kind of way, but David (our media techy savvy man) has just suggested Prezi. I have seen Prezis, but am looking forward to some hardcore training on them (just as soon as a master Dreamweaver). We shall see what path our timeline takes, but whatever path it is, we know it will be awesome (because we are awesome).

Kelly Dent