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Maria Hinojosa ’84

Hinojosa’s Early Years: From Barnard to CNN

Born in Mexico City in 1961, Maria de Lourdes Hinojosa was the youngest of four children. When she was one year old, her father moved her family to the United States, and Hinojosa spent her childhood in the south side of Chicago. While attending Barnard as an undergraduate, Hinojosa lived in Washington Heights. 

During her freshman year, Hinojosa participated in the Barnard dance department’s Program of Dance Works in Progress, in which she choreographed and danced in a piece called “Intrusion” with one of her peers. Hinojosa first became seriously invested in journalism while part of Barnard’s community. During her sophomore year, she spent her slot at WKCR celebrating her roots through having conversations with Spanish-speaking activists and sharing Latin American protest music in her show Nueva canción y De Más, which gained popularity as one of two national radio broadcasts highlighting the music genre la nuevo canión. Hinojosa spent six months traveling through Latin America, collecting music and conversations. In her junior year Fall, Hinojosa traveled to Cuba to record the Nueva Trova music festival on a trip funded by Columbia. The next summer, Hinojosa spent two weeks in Nicaragua and reflected on the experience in her article “Nicaragua: Reflections of A War-Torn Country,” which was published in the Barnard Bulletin. Hinojosa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American studies with minors in Political Science and Women’s Studies, graduating magna cum laude with the class of 1984.

Hinojosa’s career in broadcast journalism began immediately after college, when she took a position as a production assistant for National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. In 1987, she joined the staff of WCBS Radio and produced shows such as “Where We Stand” with Walter Cronkite, “The Osgood File,” and “Newsbreak.” From 1988 to 1989, she was a producer and researcher for CBS’s “This Morning.” Then, from 1990 to 1997, she worked for NPR and WNYC Radio as a general assignment correspondent, covering issues in the New York area and throughout the country. During this period, she also hosted WNYC-TV’s “New York Hotline,” a live, prime-time call-in show that addressed current and public affairs, as well as Visiones, a Latinx-oriented public-affairs talk show on WNBC-TV in New York. In May 1997, she joined the Cable News Network as a New York-based urban affairs correspondent. Throughout her career, she has maintained her affiliation with NPR as the founding anchor for Latino USA. Latino USA is a weekly national program that reports on news and culture in the Latinx community, for which she is now executive producer. Latino USA was one of the first public radio programs dedicated to covering content relevant to the American Latinx community and is now the longest-running radio show with such a focus. 

Among the major events that Hinojosa has covered on-location are the Crown Heights conflicts of 1991 and the 1995 trial of ten accused conspirators in the first attack on the World Trade Center. While covering the latter trial for NPR, Hinojosa received a request from an American literary group to cover the first American book fair ever held in Havana, Cuba. On her last day in Cuba, she traveled to the countryside to visit one of the rural sanatoriums where the Cuban government was quarantining AIDS patients. There, she met a teenage husband and wife named Javier and Mireya, members of the anti-establishment rockero subculture who had deliberately injected themselves with AIDS-tainted blood, hoping to secure a life of comfortable confinement inside a sanatorium. In the fourth chapter of her memoir Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son, Hinojosa describes her interview with the pair:

“We talked for two hours hidden under a tree in the middle of someone’s farm. Javier was afraid that if the police saw him talking to a reporter he might be harassed. They had self-injected, he told me as I listened sadly, because they were tired of being hassled by the police for being antisocial ‘rockeros.’ They explained that they had decided to get AIDS so they could get into the sanatoriums, where they knew they would be allowed to dress how they wanted, listen to the music they wanted, and have air-conditioning and food seven days a week.”

Hinojosa’s intrepid spirit continued to guide her where few other American journalists were prepared to venture, a path that only increased her professional reputation.

Hinojosa has received numerous awards and honors over the course of her career. In 1991, she won the Top Story of the Year Award as well as a Unity Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists for her NPR story about gang members, titled “Crews.” That same year, she won an Associated Press award for her coverage of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison for WNYC Radio. In 1993, she received both the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Radio Award and the New York Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Award for her NPR report “Kids and Guns.” In 1999, she received the Ruben Salazar Award from the National Council of La Raza. Named in honor of a journalist killed by a policeman’s tear gas projectile in 1970 while covering a Chicano march in East Los Angeles, the Salazar Award is given each year to an individual who has dedicated his or her life to promoting a positive portrayal of Latinx historical, political, economic, and cultural contributors to American society. The same year, she was named one of the 25 most influential working mothers in America by Working Mother magazine. In 1995, Hispanic Business magazine named her one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States, an award which she has since earned twice more, and she received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for “Manhood Behind Bars,” an NPR story that documented how jail time has become a rite of passage for men of all races.

1995 also saw the publication of Hinojosa’s first book, Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa, which was based on her award-winning NPR report. Her critically acclaimed memoir, Raising Raul, which includes her reflections on life, career, and motherhood, was published in 1999.

In 2005, Hinojosa joined PBS’s NOW as a Senior Correspondent after spending eight years as the Urban Affairs Correspondent for CNN. She then went on to host her own show on PBS, Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One, which garnered two New England Emmy awards as well as an Imagen award for its empowering Latinx representation.

Hinojosa’s New Chapter: Harlem and Barnard Once Again

In 2010, Hinojosa founded the Futuro Media Group based in Harlem, Manhattan. Futuro Media Group’s focus is on sharing marginalized media stories. Their mission statement affirms this goal:

“Futuro Media is an independent nonprofit organization committed to producing ethical journalism from a POC perspective and representing the new American mainstream. Based in Harlem and founded in 2010 by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, our multimedia journalism explores and gives a critical voice to the diversity of the American experience. We are dedicated to telling stories from perspectives often overlooked.”

Futuro Media Group produces NPR’s Latino USA, as well as PBS’s docuseries America By The Numbers with Maria Hinojosa and Humanizing America, and the political podcast In The Thick. Futuro has received five grants from the prestigious MacArthur Foundation. In 2015, Futuro’s Latino USA won a Peabody Award for its episode “Gangs, Murder and Migration in Honduras” which aired in 2014. 

Maria Hinojosa currently resides in Harlem, New York, with her family. She is a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning and rotating anchor for NPR Need to Know, as well as a recurring guest on MSNBC.

Throughout her wildly impressive and nearly three-decade-long career, Hinojosa has remained close to the Barnard community that so profoundly shaped her. In 1994, she was published in a Barnard College Collection, The Source of the Spring: Mothers Through the Eyes of Women Writers, an anthology that included her work in the company of other notable alumni such as Anna Quindelen and Mary Gordon. Hinojosa has returned to campus to speak on panels numerous times, most recently this past January. In 2008, Hinojosa received a Distinguished Alumna Award from Barnard College to recognize her outstanding achievements as a journalist and public figure. A decade later, in 2018, Hinojosa was the keynote speaker at Barnard’s Convocation ceremony. In August 2019, Maria Hinojosa was named Barnard College’s Inaugural Journalist-in-Residence. She is currently one year into her three year residency as a visiting professor, teaching and empowering current Barnard students through creative and journalistic writing. 

 

— Donald Glassman, updated by Olivia Treynor ‘23

 

Sources

“About.” The Futuro Media Group, 2020, www.futuromediagroup.org/about/.

A Program of Dance Works in Progress (1980); The Mortarboard 1985; and Barnard Honors Supplement 1985 (Barnard College Archives).

“Award-Winning Nonprofit Media Executive and Anchor Maria Hinojosa ’84 Joins Barnard College as Inaugural Journalist-in-Residence.” Barnard College, 28 Aug. 2019, barnard.edu/news/award-winning-nonprofit-media-executive-and-anchor-maria-hinojosa-84-joins-barnard-college.

Baker, Matthew Reed. “Barnard, Winter 2007.” Barnard, Winter 2007 , Barnard Digital Collections, 2007, digitalcollections.barnard.edu/object/16061/barnard-winter-2007#page/16/mode/2up.

Barnard College. “Cuban Travel Ban Lifted; Student Records Festival.” New York, NY: 1984. Barnard College Archives. http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/islandora/object/bc:bulletin-19821208-1. Accessed 1 May 2020.

Barnard College. “Nicaragua: Observations of A War-Torn Country” New York, NY: 1984. Barnard College Archives. http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/islandora/object/bc:bulletin-19840926-3. Accessed 1 May 2020.

Barnard College. “Barnard Magazine, Summer 1998.” New York, NY: 1998. Barnard College Archives. http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/object/13563/barnard-summer-1998#page/32/mode/2up. Accessed 1 May 2020.

Barnard College. “Barnard Magazine, Summer 2009.” New York, NY: 2009. Barnard College Archives, 2009, digitalcollections.barnard.edu/object/16837/barnard-magazine-summer-2009#page/13/mode/2up/search/Hinojosa.

Byrne, Rick, and Carrie v. “Award-Winning Journalist and Author Maria Hinojosa Joins PBS Newsmagazine ‘NOW’ as Senior Correspondent.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 7 Aug. 2005, http://www.pbs.org/about/blogs/news/award-winning-journalist-and-author-maria-hinojosa-joins-pbs-newsmagazine-now-as-senior-correspondent-august-8-2005/.

“Futuro Media Group Grants.” RSS, 2018, http://www.macfound.org/grantees/1656/.

Hinojosa, Maria. Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son. New York: Viking, 1999.

“Latino USA Host Maria Hinojosa Wins NCLR’s Ruben Salazar Award.” Latino USA: Press Release, July 7, 1999. Retrieved October 17, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.latinousa.org/pressrelease/mhinojosa.html>.

“Maria Hinojosa.” CNN.com: Anchors & Correspondents. Retrieved October 17, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.cnn.com/CNN/anchors_reporters/hinojosa.maria.html>.

“Maria Hinojosa.” The Futuro Media Group, 2020, http://www.futuromediagroup.org/maria-hinojosa/.

“The Series: Maria Hinojosa NOW on PBS.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 2010, http://www.pbs.org/now/series/hinojosa.html.

 

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Edwidge Danticat, Risk Taker and Writer

Edwidge Danticat ’90 is a celebrated and internationally renowned author known for her fearlessness and innovation in writing. A jack of all trades, Danticat’s career spans success in criticism, translation, literature, and film. Danticat has published six novels to date, as well as numerous articles and the acclaimed memoir, Brother, I’m Dying (2007). Her short stories have graced the pages of the New Yorker and the Washington Post, and she has worked as a writer for two films, Poto Mitan (2009) and Girl Rising (Haiti) (2003). A MacArthur Genius Grant winner and three-time National Book Critics Circle Award nominee, Danticat has emerged over the past two decades of her career as a well-established voice amongst that of the most groundbreaking and recognized contemporary authors.

Born in 1969 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Danticat was raised by her aunt while her parents lived in New York City. The early period in her life instilled in Danticat a love and regard for Haitian culture which she has carried with her throughout her career. At the age of nine, she wrote her first story in her native Creole. 

At twelve years of age, Danticat moved to New York and was enrolled in a magnet school in Brooklyn that prepared students for medical careers. Wishing his daughter to become self-sufficient and successful, her father encouraged her to be a nurse, but Danticat’s love for literature remained unfazed. Writing was a source of solace and means of expression during her high school years, a period in which she was extremely shy and found it difficult to assimilate to the fast-paced Americanness with which she was confronted. In her last two years of high school, some of her writing was published in local newspapers. The idea for Danticat’s first novel began to emerge through a piece published in New Youth Connections which evolved into a short story and basis for Breath, Eyes, Memory. 

In the fall of 1986, Danticat entered Barnard College, where her skills as a writer were nurtured and refined. Her father’s goal for Danticat to become a nurse was overcome with the passion she developed for writing while studying in Morningside Heights. While balancing a full-time course load and an on-campus job at the Office of Admissions, Danticat still found time for her most beloved activity. She presented the first part of Breath, Eyes, Memory in a creative writing class at Barnard as an essay about her life. By the end of her senior year, Danticat had completed the first seventy pages of what would become her debut novel. Danticat graduated from Barnard magna cum laude in May 1990 with a B.A. in French, counting among her honors the Helen Prince Memorial Prize, the Howard M. Teichmann Writing Prize, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

Danticat went on to graduate school at Brown University, where she continued to improve her craft. Her senior thesis at Brown ended up becoming the basis for her first novel. The manuscript was promptly discovered by Soho Press, and her graduation from Brown with an M.F.A. in creative writing coincided with the publication of Breath, Eyes, Memory in 1994. Danticat’s innovative first novel, which draws on the lives and stories of four generations of Haitian women, was well received and hailed as a landmark representation of Haitian culture from a new and dynamic perspective. Jordana Hart wrote of Danticat’s work in the Boston Globe, “Her story gives voice, depth, and anguish to the loving, bittersweet ties that bind her to her circle of women … Breath, Eyes, Memory paints a rich portrait of a lush countryside, cane fields, rainwater baths … and illuminates the beauty and family life of Haiti.”

In 1995, Danticat’s second book was published by Soho Press. Titled Krik? Krak!, the collection of short stories, some of which were conceived and written during her year working in Barnard’s financial aid office after graduating, painted a portrait of the lives of Haitians and Haitian-Americans during times of political unrest and upheaval. Danticat had a special focus on women’s lives across divisions of age and class, the relationships among whom are at the core of Danticat’s fiction. Danticat spoke of her personal urgency to articulate women’s issues, as she is quoted in one of her interviews, stating, “In Haitian culture, women are taught to be silent, but I must write.” In the epilogue to Krik? Krak!, Danticat wrote:

“The women in your family have never lost touch with one another. Death is a path we all take to meet on the other side. What goddesses have joined, let no one cast asunder. With every step you take, there is an army of women watching over you. We are never any farther than the sweat on your brows, the dust on your toes.”

Praise for Krik? Krak! matched, if not exceeded, that earned by her first novel. In 1995, Danticat received the Pushcart Short Story Prize for “Between the Pool and the Gardenias,” a part of the collection Krik? Krak!. Her book was also a finalist for the National Book Award, making Danticat the youngest writer ever nominated for the honor. In addition, Danticat was also given the 1995 Woman of Achievement Award from Barnard and selected as one of the twenty best young American novelists in 1996 by Granta.

Off the heels of the extraordinary recognition earned by her first two works, Danticat’s third book, The Farming of Bones, was published in 1997. Her novel explores the economic, political, and social situations leading up to the 1937 massacres in Haiti on the orders of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.

In 1998, one year after the publication of The Farming of Bones, Danticat appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss Breath, Eyes, Memory, which had been selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Danticat’s appearance on Oprah simultaneously brought her celebrity status and a much broader audience than her works had previously enjoyed. Meanwhile, her literary stature was reaffirmed by the 1999 American Book Award for The Farming of Bones.

In 2004, Danticat’s The Dew Breaker was published by Penguin Random House, becoming a national bestseller and Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A series of interconnected short stories, The Dew Breaker was a stylistically innovative and remarkable novel that spans Port-au-Prince and Brooklyn and numerous lives. Three years after its publication, Danticat wrote Brother, I’m Dying!, an autobiographical memoir of family that discusses her adolescence in Haiti, her transition to life in New York, and the book’s present with Danticat in Miami with her dying father. Nominee for the National Book Award and Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Danticat’s memoir garnered great critical enthusiasm and firmly established Danticat’s prestige amongst contemporary authors. Since the success of her memoir, Danticat has published two more works of nonfiction, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (2011), and The Art of Death (2017). The former reflects on her identity as an artist and immigrant from a country embroiled in conflict, while the latter is a more abstract reflection on death and the literature that has attempted to articulate it.

Since the success of 2004’s The Dew Breaker, Danticat has authored two more fiction works. Her novel Claire of the Sea Light was published in 2013 and named a Notable Book of the Year by both The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post, as well as being honored as an NPR “Great Read” and named a finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Most recently, Everything Inside was published in 2019, garnering Danticat her third National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction nominee and second win. 

In addition to Danticat’s decorated career as an author and novelist, Danticat has taught creative writing at New York University and worked with Jonathan Demme (creator of the film versions of Beloved and The Silence of the Lambs) on Courage and Pain (1994), a documentary about her native country of Haiti.

Danticat remains closely connected with Barnard, having returned as a distinguished guest speaker on multiple occasions, including the 1997 Helen Rogers Reid Lecture on the topic of “Migration and the Literary Imagination.” In 2011, Danticat was the first speaker of Barnard’s Africana Studies Program’s Distinguished Alumnae Series. In 2019, Danticat returned to campus as the keynote speaker for the Barnard Organization of Soul Sister’s Annual “Family Dinner.” This past February, Danticat spoke on a panel of first-generation Barnard authors alongside other novelists Mary Gordon ‘71, Mary Beth Keane ‘99 and Cecily Wong ‘10 for the event “Coming to Barnard: First-Generation Writers Talk about Learning Their Art.” 

 

In 2000, Danticat received the high honor of being asked to write the foreword to the new HarperCollins edition of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston ’28. A year later, one of Danticat’s short stories was selected for inclusion in Mothers Through the Eyes of Women Writers: A Barnard College Collection. This anthology of stories, all of which are written by Barnard alumnae and compiled by former Barnard President Judith R. Shapiro, focuses on intergenerational relationships among women of many cultures. In 2009, Danticat was honored with the MacArthur Genius Grant. This year, Danticat was honored with the 2020 Vilcek Prize in Literature. Danticat continues to inspire readers through her ability to illuminate both the harmony and the conflict between different cultures in the same land. At the root of Danticat’s art will always be her passion for the fearless craft of writing, for as she observes in Create Dangerously, “Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.” 

— Stephanie Pahler ’05, updated by Olivia Treynor ‘23

Sources

Atanasoski, Neda. “Edwidge Danticat.” Voices from the Gaps: Women Writers of Color. Last updated February 23, 1998. Retrieved November 9, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://voices.cla.umn.edu/authors.EdwidgeDanticat.html>.

Barnard College Graduates Honors and Awards, October 25, 1989, February 14, 1990, and May 16, 1990; and The Mortarboard 1990 (Barnard College Archives).

Danticat, Edwidge. Breath, Eyes, Memory.  New York: Soho Press, 1994.

Danticat, Edwidge. Brother, I’m Dying. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.

Danticat, Edwidge. Krik? Krak! New York: Soho Press, 1995.

Danticat, Edwidge. The Farming of Bones. New York: Soho Press, 1998.

Danticat, Edwidge. “The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat – Reading Guide: 9781400034291 – PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books.” PenguinRandomhouse.com, Knopf, http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/36742/the-dew-breaker-by-edwidge-danticat/9781400034291/readers-guide/.

“Edwidge Danticat.” Edwidge Danticat, 2020, edwidgedanticat.com/.

“Edwidge Danticat ’90.” Barnard College, 16 July 2019, barnard.edu/news/edwidge-danticat-90.

“Edwidge Danticat.” Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 29. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 1999. Retrieved November 5, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.galegroup.com/freresrc/blkhstry.danticat.htm>.

“Edwidge Danticat.” The New York Immigrant Achievement Awards: 2000 Honorees. Retrieved November 9, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.ailf.org/notable/iaa/ny2000/danticat.htm>.

Hart, Jordanna. “Debut Novel Reveals Haiti’s Heart.” Boston Globe, August 12, 1994, p. 53.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.

Kerlee, Ime. “Edwidge Danticat.” Emory University: Postcolonial Studies. Last updated December 20, 2000. Retrieved November 9, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/Bahri/Danticat.html>.

“Oprah’s Book Club: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat.” Oprah.com. Retrieved November 9, 2001 from the World Wide Web: <http://www.oprah.com/obc/pastbooks/edwidge_danticat>.

Shapiro, Judith R., ed. Mothers Through the Eyes of Women Writers: A Barnard College Collection. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 2001.

Suchodolski, Veronica. “Way Back Wednesday: Edwidge Danticat ’90.” Barnard College, 19 Feb. 2019, barnard.edu/news/way-back-wednesday-edwidge-danticat-90.

 

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Alyssa Mt. Pleasant: Haudenosaunee Historian

“I don’t think we can understand how we got to where we are as a nation without an understanding of American Indian history.”

-Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, ’97

Early Life and Barnard

Alyssa Mt. Pleasant grew up in Syracuse, NY. She’s Tuscarora (one of the six Haudenosaunee nations) from her father’s side, and has had a vested interested in Indigenous issues from a young age. As Sarah Sweeney notes in a Radcliffe Magazine interview, Mt. Pleasant “was always cognizant of her hometown’s location within the traditional homelands of the Onondaga Nation.”

Mt. Pleasant came to Barnard in the mid 1990s for her undergraduate degree. During her time there, she was chair of the newly founded Native American Council. She helped raise awareness at Barnard about Native American history, culture, and presence at the school and across the country. She graduated in 1997 cum laude with a major in history.

Taking Charge in her Discipline

In an interview with Tanya H. Lee of Indian Country Today, Mt. Pleasant notes that while pursuing her interest in history and Native American and Indigenous studies, she:

“realized that one of the most productive ways I could address my frustrations regarding the absence of Native history courses and the shortage of Native perspectives in the classroom was by becoming a professor myself.”

So, after a brief time as a legal assistant, Mt. Pleasant went to get her PhD in History and Indian American Studies at Cornell University. She graduated in 2005 with her dissertation “After the Whirlwind: Maintaining a Haudenosaunee Place at Buffalo Creek, 1780-1825.” Mt. Pleasant’s PhD work allowed her to attain various professorships and fellowships in the following years, so that she could do the work of expanding and raising awareness around the fields of Native American and Indigenous studies in academia and beyond.

Post-PhD

In an interview with Mary Annette Pember for Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Mt. Pleasant comments on education around Indigenous histories in the United States:

“Our school system has done a disservice to American citizens by not sharing more information about American Indian history,” she says. “My challenge is to offer them a basic understanding of the contours of that history.”

Mt. Pleasant has accepted that challenge and taken it even further. One year after she graduated from Cornell (during that year she was a Post-Graduate Associate at the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders), she started to help build up the Native American Studies program at Yale as an Assistant Professor in the American Studies Program of the History Department. In addition to her pedagogical work at Yale, Mt. Pleasant was a Research Associate at the The McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and published two papers: “Indians Playing Lacrosse on Ice”​ (2008) and “Debating Missionary Presence at Buffalo Creek: Haudenosaunee Perspectives on land cessions, government relations, and Christianity” (2008).

Mt. Pleasant left Yale for her current position as an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), where she coordinates the Haudenosaunee-Native American Studies Research Group within the University at Buffalo’s Humanities Institute. In 2015-2016, she was selected to be a Research Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where she participated in their Initiative on Native and Indigenous Peoples. During her time at the University at Buffalo, Mt. Pleasant has published numerous papers, including her most recent “Materials and Methods in Native American and Indigenous Studies: Completing the Turn,” with Caroline Wigginton and Kelly Wisecup, and “Emotional Labor and Precarity in Native American and Indigenous Studies.” For a more complete list of publications, check out her page on the University at Buffalo’s website.

She has also acted as a council member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, where, among other roles and responsibilities, she co-chaired the 2012 NAISA conference.

Looking Ahead

Mt. Pleasant continues to present her research at scholarly conferences and talks around the country, and she helps museums by using her expertise to consult on their exhibits. She is revising her manuscript “After the Whirlwind: Haudenosaunee People and the Emergence of U.S. Settler-coloniailsm, 1780-1825,” and continues to teach, conduct research, and write. Her primary focus is on Haudenosaunee history during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but expands beyond that into early American history, settler colonialism, public history, and more. You can keep up to date on her work by following her on Twitter @BettyRbl! Be sure to check out her #roadsidemarker series.

Honors and Awards

While at Cornell, Mt. Pleasant received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Cunningham Fellowship, the David L. Call Achievement Award, the Maisel Research Grant, the Gilmore Fellowship, and the Frances Allen Fellowship.

During her time at Yale, she received the Association of Native Americans at Yale Community Award, Morse Faculty Fellowship, and the School for Advanced Research Short Seminar.

Since she’s taken a position as an Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo, Mt. Pleasant has received the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship, Harvard University; a Grant-in-aid from Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Culture (an SSHRC Partnership Development Grant) to participate in “Negotiating Schooling and Literacies in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, 1750-1900” research group; a Grant-in-aid from Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia to participate in International Research Seminar “Smiling to their Faces: Race, Emotional Labour, and the University,”; and a Grant-in-aid from Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University to participate in Accelerator Workshop “Structural Tenderness: Race, Emotional Labour, and the University.”

-Sarah Barlow-Ochshorn ’20

Sources

Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, et al. “Materials and Methods in Native American and Indigenous Studies: Completing the Turn.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 75, no. 2, 2018, pp. 207–236. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5309/willmaryquar.75.2.0207. Accessed 9 April  2020.
“Alyssa Mt. Pleasant.” Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Harvard University. https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/people/alyssa-mt-pleasant. Accessed 15 April 2020.
“Alyssa Mt. Pleasant.” University at Buffalo Department of Transnational Studies. https://arts-sciences.buffalo.edu/transnational-studies/faculty/faculty-directory.host.html/content/shared/arts-sciences/transnational-studies/faculty-staff/faculty-profiles/mt-pleasant-alyssa.html. Accessed 9 April 2020.

Barnard College. Mortarboard. New York, NY: 1996. Barnard College Archives. http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/islandora/object/bc:yearbook-1996#page/210/mode/2up. Accessed 9 April  2020.

Barnard College. Mortarboard. New York, NY: 1997. Barnard College Archives. http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/islandora/object/bc:yearbook-1997#page/98/mode/2up. Accessed 15 April  2020.

Costantini, Cristina. “Why Some Native Americans Can Laugh About Thanksgiving.” ABC News. 21 November 2012 .https://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/native-americans-laugh-thanksgiving/story?id=17780374. Accessed 9 April 2020.

Lee, Tanya H. “5 More Native Women Who Know Their History.” Indian Country Today 30 March 2016. https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news/in-news/5-more-native-women-who-know-their-history. Accessed 9 April  2020.

Mt. Pleasant, Alyssa. “Emotional Labor and Precarity in Native American and Indigenous Studies.” English Language Notes, vol. 54 no. 2, 2016, p. 175-181. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/article/711452. Accessed 9 April 2020.

Mt. Pleasant, Alyssa. “Alyssa Mt. Pleasant.” Linkedin. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alyssamtpleasant/. Accessed 9 April 2020.

Pember, Mary Annette. “Getting to Know: Alyssa Mt. Pleasant.” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. 29 November 2007. https://diverseeducation.com/article/10288/. Accessed 9 April 2020.

Staab, Deborah M. “Class Notes.” Barnard: Spring 2005: 32-63. Barnard College Archives. http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/islandora/object/BC11-08:15540#page/62/mode/2up. Accessed 9 April 2020.

Sweeney, Sarah. “On the Trail of the Haudenosaunee: RADCLIFFE FELLOW ALYSSA MT. PLEASANT IS UNCOVERING THE HISTORY OF BUFFALO CREEK.” Radcliffe Magazine. Summer 2016. https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news/radcliffe-magazine/trail-haudenosaunee. Accessed 15 April 2020.

 

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Sabra Moore at the MoMA

In December 2019, I visited the newly-reopened MoMA. Gallery 205 – “Print, Fold, Send” features the Reconstructed Codex (photocopier edition), a work created by Sabra Moore and nineteen collaborators (including Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Nancy Spero, Virginia Jaramillo, and Helen Oji, among others). This work was created for Reconstruction Project, a January 1984 show at Artists’ Space curated by Moore. Reconstruction Project was a part of Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America (Artists Call), a 1984 series of shows, performances, and actions in response to the Reagan administration’s funding of the counterinsurgent Contras in Nicaragua and genocide of indigenous Maya peoples in Guatemala.

Case of small paper artworks

Moore discusses her curatorial and creative process in her memoir, Openings:

I was in the midst of reading books written during the Spanish conquest of the Americas. One was by the third bishop of the Yucatan, Diego de Landa, the seminal scholar for Maya studies and also the person who destroyed the codices in 1562. He described that auto-da-fe plainly and without apology: ‘We found a great number these books…and since they contained nothing but superstitions and falsehoods of the devil, we burned them all, which they [the Maya] took most grievously, and which gave them great pain.’ Only four Maya codices survived this conflagration.

How could a person who appreciated a culture choose destroy it? This historical event felt current to me … We could symbolically renew a codex, and, in the process, educate ourselves … I chose the Dresden Codex, named after the European city where it now resides, as the book to reconstruct. The accordion-shaped codex unfolds to thirteen feet; ours had the same dimensions. (Moore, Openings, 99)

In addition to the large-scale Reconstructed Codex, the Reconstruction Project show included large wall-hung works by participating artists. The photocopier edition now on view at the MoMA was created after the show and was first exhibited at MoMA in 1988, in Committed to Print: Social & Political Themes in Recent American Art, curated by Deborah Wye.

Sabra Moore was also involved in another MoMA re-opening, just months after Reconstruction Project, in June 1984, when she co-organized the Women Artists Visibility Event (W.A.V.E.) / Let MOMA Know protest. This action protested the re-opening of MoMA after a year of renovations with An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture, which featured 14 women artists among 165 artists total, almost all of them white. This was not the first protest at MoMA, nor was it Moore’s first time planning a protest.

Two people holding a banner reading MOMA – Do Only White Men Make Art?”
Susan Miller (left) and Maria Elena Gonzalez (right) holding banner “MOMA – Do Only White Men Make Art?” Photographer: Clarissa Sligh
Two people talking in front of a crowd
Sabra Moore (left) talking to Lucy Lippard (right). Photographer: Clarissa Sligh
Person wearing a sash in front of a crowd
Emma Amos wearing “Nancy Spero” sash (left). Photographer: Clarissa Sligh

You can learn more about Reconstruction Project; see a model MoMA with names and show cards of women artists from the Let MoMA Know project; learn more about feminist art worlds of New York City in the later 20th century; and get acquainted with Sabra Moore’s curatorial work, her period as a counselor at Women’s Services (the first legal abortion clinic in NY), and her time producing Heresies as a member of the Heresies Collective from 1970-1991 in the Sabra Moore NYC Women’s Art Movement Collection, 1969-1996 at the Barnard Archives and Special Collections. Her memoir is also available through CLIO.

WORDY, a solo show of works by Sabra Moore from the same period as her archival collection at Barnard, will be open at the Barnard Archives Hope L. and John L. Furth Reading Room from March 23 – April 30, 2020. There will be an opening on March 25 and an artist talk on March 26th; more information will be shared on the Barnard Library website.

The full-size Reconstructed Codex will be on display in 2021 at the Tufts University Art Galleries, Boston in an exhibit on Artists Call titled Art for the Future: Artists Call and Central American Solidarity in the 1980s, co-organized by Erina Duganne and Abigail Satinsky.

— Martha Tenney

Further reading

Wikipedia articles on Sabra Moore and Let MoMA Know created at Barnard Library Wikipedia edit-a-thons

Moore, Sabra. Openings : A Memoir from the Women’s Art Movement, New York City 1970-1992. New York, NY: New Village Press, 2016. (catalog record in CLIO)

Sabra Moore NYC Women’s Art Movement Collection, 1969-1996; Barnard Archives and Special Collections, Barnard Library, Barnard College. Online finding aid.

Clarissa Sligh Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Online finding aid.

Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America : PAD/D pamphlet file : miscellaneous uncataloged material, Political Art Documentation & Distribution Archive, Museum of Modern Art Library. Catalog record.

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‘Our Own Celebration’: the World War I Armistice Parade at Barnard College

In his book Only Yesterday (1931), Frederick Lewis Allen describes the celebrations in New York City after the World War I armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Allen writes that during one of these notable celebrations, “eight hundred Barnard girls snake-danced on Morningside Heights.”

"Our Own Celebration" clipping from November 11, 1918 Barnard Bulletin.
“Our Own Celebration” clipping from November 11, 1918 Barnard Bulletin.

A dip into the Barnard Bulletin, Barnard’s weekly newspaper (available online here), shows that Barnard women did indeed express their joy by parading around campus. The clipping entitled “Our Own Celebration,” with transcript below, from the November 15, 1918 Bulletin describe the festivities of November 11, 1918:

[With New York City bubbling over with enthusiasm, Monday morning, Barnard found it quite beyond the realm of possibility to settle down to nine o’clock classes. Step-singing on the big stairway is very satisfying in  normal times, but Monday demanded more, so with a whoop and a bound the girls gathered in Milbank set forth upon a wild snake dance through the Jungle and over the campus. More singing and a gay parade led by the Dean around the edge of the Quadrangle, put a happy end to our own celebration.]

Aerial view of Barnard College campus with the "Jungle," an area of trees on Barnard's campus, in the foreground, circa 1918-1919
Aerial view of Barnard College campus with the “Jungle,” an area of trees on Barnard’s campus, in the foreground, circa 1918-1919

Barnard’s “snake dance,” despite the images of pythons and shimmying that it conjures up, was just a celebratory parade. This snake dance was Barnard’s “own celebration” because they participated in a more formal ceremony on Columbia’s campus earlier that day. According to an article published in the same issue of the Bulletin, “President Butler, members of the Faculty in cap and gown, American and French officers, members of the S.A.T.C., and the Signal Corps, sailors, and students of Barnard and Teachers College” attended. The soldiers then marched the length of Columbia’s campus, up to 120th street and back down to 116th street via Amsterdam Avenue. According to the article, “Barnard and Teachers College formed the rear guard” and eventually “marched with as much precision as the men.”

Barnard students gathered at Columbia University parade.
Barnard students gathered at Columbia University parade.

After the Barnard students were “escorted back to Milbank” they must have had their own idea about what a celebratory parade should look like.

-Alice Griffin BC ’15, Archives Assistant

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Sex, “togetherness,” and this bit of nonsense: Letters from the Dorms

Among the collection of materials housed in the Barnard archives are the correspondence and personal writings of the young, lively, and more often than not, cheeky, Barnard students who walked our halls years past. These materials paint a picture of engrossing conversations, keen perspectives, and close friendships that resonate with all of us who are still learning, growing, and forming close friendships today. Much has changed, but so much is still familiar. Here’s an entry by Bobby, a student at Barnard College during the late 1930s, where she offers a picture of her friends, their conversations, and a hint of the cultural backdrop of their time.


Jan 8, 1938

Leonore’s Room 661

Hewitt Hall

8:30 to 9:30 P.M.

Leonore at desk studying the NRA for government. Bobby lying on bed doing History of Education. Adelaide Murphy walks in as I begin to write. After this concentrated study we burst into chatter, starting off with the movie “Life of Emile Zola” and the Dreyfus case, and the play “Soldier Boy”. The conversation turned into well-worn channels, and we covered topics already chewed to rags yet still scintillating and all-absorbing for us. We decided that we would remain unmarried or rather in state of singleness for life and spend our lives in constant and mutual “togetherness”. Since we both are only children and shall eventually be left alone in the world, on as maiden aunts to the children of our other dear friends, Ruth, Edna, Phyllis, Helen et al.

The conversation dragged on about questions of sex and promiscuity and the advisability of pre-marital intercourse. Phyllis R. is leaning on me and consequently my writing is reaching its worst stage. It can’t be any worse says Phyllis biting me turie [?] in succession.

Leanore fights for chastity and I brought out arguments for and against; we both agreed that it is permissible for individuals who know and are sure of marriage at a later date or have reached a stage of mutual love and understanding. Incidentally the whole question of romantic love recurred and in view of Patti’s positions and our greater wisdom (being Seniors) we agreed that this motif was and is overdone in our culture; marriage can be happy minus a foundation in romantic love provided it rests on other foundations as intellectual equality (approve) [?], personality adjustment, friendships + psychological understanding.

We strained every effort to go back to our studies. Adelaide is here, doing NY of [?] work. Phyllis reminded us not to forget to come to her room to hear the Toscanini broadcast at 10 o’clock.

Adieu and let’s hope to see this bit of nonsense in 10 years.

Bobby

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Crushes, Bullying, and Boredom in Watercolor: Pages from Edith Louise Allen’s Scrapbook

Edith Louise Allen was a student at Barnard from 1908-1910. Though she never graduated, she clearly possessed the creativity, imagination, and cutting wit of our other alumnae.

 

Page001

Page002

Page003

Page004

Page005

Page006

 

Cleo Levin ’14, Archives Assistant

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A Day in the Life of a Barnard Student, circa 1950

These excerpts come from the collected letters of Jean Ziegler, Class of 1950. The Barnard Archives possesses over 70 of the letters Ziegler wrote home from 1947-1950. Read here about pledge night, the Soph-Frosh Formal, and skiing at Bear Mountain!

BC17-10_BarnardHallGroupC1950s
Students in front of Barnard Hall, circa 1950s

 

Jan. 6, 1947

[In Lake Placid for the holidays]

“The town looked beautiful that night coming home. There were little Christmas trees along the street all lighted and all the other lights were off. The night was real clear and just to complete the picture, the car radio was playing “Winter Wonderland.” If I ever hear that song again, I know I’ll start crying.

Thursday night we saw Never Say Goodbye at the Palace, then went to the Maj, as usual. Saw Ed Damp coming out of the show and broke down and accepted a date with him Friday night, But came Friday night and no Ed. Seems he went to a champagne party and forgot to pick me up. That was the last time he gets a chance to do that. But I was shedding no tears over him, as I would rather sleep.”

Feb. 23

“Since yesterday was a holiday and the library wasn’t open anyway, four of us got a neat idea about going to Bear Mt. to ski. Especially with the lovely 11.6 inch snow, we decided it shouldn’t be wasted. Unfortunately one of the kids got sick Friday night +another decided not to go, but Tay and I got up in time to make an early train, along with millions of other people, and had a swell time falling down and getting up again. Of course, the slopes aren’t nearly as nice as those in Placid, but I got enough practice so I can dodge people and I know what a snowplow and stem turn should be, even if I can’t do them too well. But at least I stood up! (usually). I was all set to take the “Jr.” jump (10 ft., supposedly) but one of my skis was a little loose and when someone in front of me broke a ski, I decided to wait until “next” time. Not that I was scared!!”

March 17

“Sat night. ten of us took fellas from Kingspoint to the Soph-frosh formal and had loads of fun… No doubt you’ll be interested to know that Pat Skelton was up to her old tricks, and ran off with someone else’s date. The little rat pulls that trick every time… The orchestra wasn’t as good for this dance as for the previous ones. It nearly blasted us out of the dining room, They didn’t play one slow number all evening. Too many rhumbas and jitterbug numbers.

After the dance, we went out to a sandwich shop, and had hamburgers, hot roast beef sandwichs [sic], cokes, etc. and the starving hungry Barnardites really enjoyed the food.”

March 21

“For the last two nights, it’s been practically impossible to get to bed early here. Wed. night I was almost asleep when I kept smelling burning rubber, and then we heard millions of fire engines. What happened wasn’t too exciting but the fire trucks have a way of attracting people—a car burnt at 116th + Riverside. I just sat up in bed for a perfect view.

Last night Maureen was over doing Spanish, when we heard a racket outside on Claremont. This time it was ΣX pledge night, and they were copying what Beta did a few weeks ago but on a larger scale. There must have been 25 pledges, compared to Beta’s 4, who sang (?) while bags of water, furnished by the brothers whipped past.”

 

 

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5 Barnard Alums That Should Be on Your Radar

Though these five alumnae may not hold the star power of a graduate like Martha Stewart or Cynthia Nixon, they have all been extremely influential in their fields. Read on to discover how a daring debutante traveled to the Lower East Side pre-subway system, how a young editor started a major magazine at age 26, and how Barnard students have generally gone on to challenge the status quo.

Ida Rolf
Ida Rolf

Ida Rolf (1896-1979, BC Class of 1916) Ida Rolf was a biochemist and the inventor of Rolfing Structural Integration. Rolf began her career as an Associate in the Chemistry department at the Rockefeller Institute. While working in academia, she maintained an interest in alternative forms of healing such as yoga and homeopathy. In the 1930s, Rolf began to seek answers to problems in her and her family’s personal health. She formed new theories on imbalances in the body, suggesting that placing  pressure on the soft tissues could help the body realign in its natural form.  After functioning as an independent practitioner, Rolf started the first Guild for Structural Integration in 1967 in Boulder, Colorado. Today, there are almost 2,000 certified Rolf practitioners.

Dean Spade (b.1977, BC Class of 1997) Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law. Studying Political Science and Women’s Studies at Barnard, Spade went on obtain a J.D. in Public Interest Law and Policy. He founded the Sylvia Riviera Law Project in 2002, which provides free legal service to transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color.

Norma Sklarek (1926-2012, BC Class of 1950)  Norma Sklarek was the first Black woman to register as an architect in New York and California. She worked for 20 years at Gruen Associates, an architecture and design firm based out of Los Angeles. Much of Sklarek’s most important work was accomplished at Gruen, including Fox Plaza in San Francisco, the American Embassy in Tokyo, and the Queens Fashion Mall in New York. Gruen Associates is now 49 percent female and 60 percent ethnic minorities, and some have credited Sklarek for paving the way for minorities. She also formed Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond in the 1980s, the first firm to be formed and managed by an African-American woman.

Atoosa Rubinstein
Atoosa Rubinstein

Atoosa Rubenstein (b. 1972, BC Class of 1993) Atoosa Rubenstein started her career as an assistant to Helen Gurley Brown at Cosmopolitan. She quickly rose to the position of senior fashion editor, and, at 26, she became the youngest editor-in-chief in Hearst history when she founded CosmoGIRL! Soon after, Hearst acquired Seventeen magazine, and Rubinstein transferred to editor-in-chief at that publication. She did not, however, conceive of her career in terms of the corporate structure of publications and retired from Seventeen at only 35.  She now plans to start a new career in digital media.

Mary Harriman Rumsey (1881-1934, BC Class of 1905) Mary Harriman Rumsey founded the Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement Movements with her Barnard friend Nathalie Henderson at age 19. She was looking to organize her class of 85 debutantes into an activity with purpose and had the idea to assist with the settlement movement in New York City. She and Nathalie brought their colleagues to help out with the College Settlement on Rivington Street, teaching children art and dance. Her participation in the Junior League led her to get involved with FDR’s New Deal, and she assisted in writing the Social Security Act of 1935.

 

-Cleo Levin BC ’14

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Barnard Summer School for Women Workers in Industry 1927-1933

BC13-06_IndustrialGroupPhotoC1928
Industrial Summer School, c. 1928

From 1927-1933, Barnard ran the Summer School for Women Workers in Industry. Barnard modeled its summer school on Bryn Mawr’s pioneering program, started in 1921. Barnard’s school was, however, non-residential, and students travelled to campus every day. They stayed from 9 AM to 9:30 PM, eating in the cafeteria, attending lecture, and participating in extracurricular activities such as tennis or musical instruction. The students felt that they could not be productive studying all day, so athletics played a large part in their daily routine. They commented in their “Write-Ups on Athletics, “If you have never been to the gymnasium during the session of the Barnard Summer School you have missed one half of your life. And if you have never been on the tennis court then you are dead to what is most fun.”

The Barnard program accepted around 50 students for their seven-week term, and the women only needed to have attended school through the 6th grade . The students were 20-35 years old and were mostly immigrants, the majority being of Russian or Polish descent. They came primarily from the garment trade, but also from millinery, upholstery, electrical, and waitress trades. Their tuition was free, raised through contributions from donors.

BC13-06_Industrial Summer SchoolC1928
The students in the lab, c. 1928

Students took classes in three categories: Modern Industrial Society, English Literature and Composition, and Science. The program was not meant to help the women obtain promotions or better jobs, but to develop in the women, “an increased understanding of their own industrial problems.” The Calendar of Special Events for 1931 included activities like a dance given for the current students by the Summer School alumnae, a visit to the I. Miller & Co. Shoe Factory in Long Island, and several lectures and tea hours at which labor issues were discussed. The hope was that the students would come away with a better understanding of the world at large and would be encouraged to engage in studying and creative activities in their free time.

At the end of the summer, the students compiled their writings into “The Barnard Record.” The pieces were mainly personal essays and opinion pieces on industry and women’s roles. One student wrote an essay, “The Importance of Reading to Me” in 1931. She relates how a life-long interest in reading morphed from a passion for fairy tales, to religious pieces, to geography and stories about foreign lands. Her family labelled this last interest as for boys, not girls. She responds in her essay, “The resentment against the injustice arose in me. I started to think, and later…. I started my reading on feminism.” This type of energy and determination is typical of the tone of the summer students’ writing.

In 1931, in the wake of the Great Depression, the Barnard Summer School was able to accept only 34 students, despite increasing interest. The program closed in 1933. Yet, for the seven summers the school was in session, the program was an excellent example of education for education’s sake, and the work produced by the students remains impactful and inspiring.

 

-Cleo Levin ’14, Archives Assistant