Middle Tennessee Worldviews

This segment of VFOA seeks to collect, compile, and disseminate narratives from this diverse and growing region. One branch focuses on gathering and disseminating stories of local African-American life in order to provide insight into the experiences of this ethnic group in Tennessee. In addition to providing new insights into how living under segregation shaped individuals' childhood dreams, educational experiences, and sense of self and community, the project explores subsequent effects of those experiences on the lives of African Americans as they went on to pursue dreams, raise families, and understand themselves in relation to their increasingly multi-national and multi-cultural community and region.

The other branch centers on collecting narratives of Caribbean and African immigrants to the region, providing a basis for educational materials, programs, and policies that advance inter-ethnic understanding and education.

We have begun conducting interviews in the region, in addition to helping local community organizations with the planning and enacting of programs. Our priority has been and will continue to be building relationships with local partners, identifying mutual interests, and undertaking collaborative strategic planning and program development based on those interests. If you are interested in having us work with your community, organization, or school, feel free to contact us. This segment of VFOA has been supported, in part, by grants from the Vanderbilt International Office, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, Humanities Tennessee, the College of Arts and Science Dean's Office, and the Center for Latin American Studies.

With a grant from Humanities Tennessee, for example, VFOA led a yearlong educational outreach program for economically disadvantaged youth. The purpose of this collaborative program was to provide these participants with opportunities to learn about, critically engage in, contextualize, and develop well-grounded perspectives on the history of their community by interacting with living primary sources (elders in their community), print primary sources, as well as distinguished humanities scholars, educators, and creative writers.

Contact us if you'd like us to start a similar program in your area, city, state, or country.