Dispatches from the History Major: "Race in America: The Messiah College 2105 Humanities Symposium"

James Mueller

I hope you are enjoying “Dispatches from the History Major.”  Here is the next installment from Messiah College sophomore history major James Mueller.  –JF

Last Friday marked the close of Messiah College’s 2015Humanities Symposium on the theme “Race in America.” Because of my involvement with the Center for the Public Humanities and the Digital Harrisburg Project, I had the opportunity to be pretty involved. Here are some of my highlights:

  • Attending the Genetic Ancestry ProjectDr. Joseph Huffman of the Messiah College History Department and two other Messiah College professors spent the summer of 2014 exploring the genetic make-up of about a dozen different Messiah student and faculty members. They presented their results via a student produced documentary and had the student and faculty members talk about how they felt about their “race” after discovering their genetic origins. This session completely changed my perception of racial categorization!   
  • Escorting high school students to dinner and to Michele Norris’ keynote lecture – The kids I ate with were fun, energetic, and excited to talk about race and what it meant to them. After our meal we went over to Parmer Hall and listened to Michele Norris give an excellent talk about her experience with race and why she started her Race Card Project.    
  • Presenting a talk at a session on the Digital Harrisburg Project – Rachel Carey (a junior history major at Messiah College and the heart of the Digital Harrisburg project) and I gave a presentation with Dr. David Pettegrew and Dr. Jim LaGrand (two Messiah History professors) in front of a packed classroom at Messiah’s Boyer Hall. We talked about the inception of the project, showed off some of its capabilities, and addressed a number of historical questions concerning race in early 20thcentury Harrisburg. It was a great opportunity to work on my public speaking skills and to use my historical skills outside of the classroom. Oh, and I also
    Michelle Norris

    that Dr Powers (the Dean of the Humanities at Messiah) and Dr. Fea can blow Twitter up like nobody’s business!        

  • Harrisburg Giants Extended Trailer Preview – I unfortunately did not have the chance to attend this session because of work, but I’m sure Messiah students Jonathan Berry Wolf, Kyle Kull, and Scott Orris did a great job! They gave their audience a sneak peak of a documentary they have been working on about the Harrisburg Giants (a mixed-race baseball team which played in the American Negro League during the 1930s), and even had four members of the Giants come and talk about their experience on the team.
The Symposium was fascinating, challenging, and utterly exhausting; juggling two jobs and my course work didn’t help things either. I’m looking forward to next year’s, but for now I’m thankful for a reprieve after such a crazy week. Is it sad that writing a 4-6 page source analysis on Suetonius’ De Vita Caesarum is going to be relaxing?