Sankofa: Go Back and Get It!
Senior Researches Past to Uncover More About Her Heritage
It often has been said that in order to go forward, one must never forget where one has been. Senior Lauren Harrison not only understood this concept, but used this idea to base her Summer Scholar research on her family’s ancestry from the early 1800s to present time.
Harrison’s project: “Sankofa: Go Back and Get It! Black Cultural Identity in Fiction and in Life” allowed her to explore the many facets of research that interested her, which included: recognizing black identity in works of fiction, genealogic research in several regional libraries and traveling to various states.
Sankofa is a proverb from Ghana that loosely means that “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you came from,” which greatly intrigued Harrison to research the importance of identity and ancestry, as well as the truth within her own family heritage by researching her family’s past and honing in on the treatment of African-Americans throughout the years.
“I wanted to research the injustice and treatment of black people, and also gain a new understanding of my family’s background. Everywhere I went I took my video camera with me to gain a different perspective and to record what I discovered and to truly capture people I interviewed,” says
The Summer Scholar project took Harrison to W. Va. as well as various counties in
“The most unsettling images were of the graves that hadn’t been properly taken care of in over 50 years. To go into the cemetery for my research was almost like a family reunion. In many ways it was very emotional for me,”
Throughout the entire Summer Scholar project, Stewart played an integral role in
“Dr. Stewart was my rock—she would go with me to research in graveyards, at churches; we would go through books together. I know that I couldn’t have done this project without her emotional and physical support. She was an integral force in my Summer Scholar project,”