Hear, Here, a place-based oral history project in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin, launched in the spring of 2015 during a rash of shootings of black men by police across America. This article explores the local context of race panic in a former sundown town—or a city that has purposely maintained itself as white—after two black narrators shared stories of their experiences with racism. The essay explores the role of public historians doing social justice work in modern America, the issues that some publics have with such work, and ways in which to deal with controversies and criticisms.
Sun Up in a Sundown Town: Public History, Private Memory, and Racism in a Small City
Ariel Beaujot is an associate professor of public history at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. In 2015 she and her students created Hear, Here, a place-based oral history project on the streets of downtown La Crosse. Hear, Here brings oral histories out of the archives and onto the streets for public consumption. Beaujot is a material culturalist by training. Her book, Victorian Fashion Accessories (2012), explores how women’s use of gloves, parasols, fans, and vanity sets revealed the class, gender, and colonial aspirations of the white women who used them.
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Ariel Beaujot; Sun Up in a Sundown Town: Public History, Private Memory, and Racism in a Small City. The Public Historian 1 May 2018; 40 (2): 43–68. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2018.40.2.43
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