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Common Reading 2020-21: Listen. Learn. Act.

This theme for 2020-21 is dedicated to listening to and learning about Blackness and Black experience.

Events Related to the Common Reading

Act logo from the 2020 Common Reading Program at UO

Oct. 7, 2020
Oct. 20, 2020
Oct. 12 - Nov. 20, 2020
Oct. 12 - Dec. 31, 2020
Nov. 11, 2020
Nov. 18, 2020

On Nov. 18, Prairie View A&M University President Ruth Simmons, who will speak on “Civil Society’s Debt to Higher Education.”

Dec. 1, 2020

Join Emmanuel Akyeampong, faculty director of the Harvard University Center for African Studies and professor of History and of African and African American studies at Harvard, on Dec. 1 for “African and African American Relations, c. 1960 to Recent Times: Transformations in Global Blackness.”

Dec. 2, 2020
Feb 19, 2021
More Events and Exhibits

Join the UO Community discussion boards at Goodreads

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Join the discussion at the link below! You will need to use your UO email address to sign up!

Related Podcast Shows

NPR's Code Switch Podcast tile

NPR's Code Switch

What's CODE SWITCH? It's the fearless conversations about race that you've been waiting for! Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. We explore how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between. This podcast makes ALL OF US part of the conversation — because we're all part of the story.

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The Register

"Oregon Black Pioneers debuted a new programming initiative last week with the first episode of “The Register”, a radio show co-produced by KMUN Coast Community Radio. The 5-minute weekly broadcast features a biography of a different figure from Oregon’s African American history. Zachary Stocks, OBP’s Executive Director, is the show host."  Read the 9/22/20 press release about this new show from the Oregon Black Pioneers historical society site.

Uncivil podcast logo

Uncivil

Uncivil brings you stories that were left out of the official history of the Civil War, ransacks America's past, and takes on the history you grew up with. We bring you untold stories about resistance, covert operations, corruption, mutiny, counterfeiting, antebellum drones, and so much more. And we connect these forgotten struggles to the political battlefield we’re living on right now. The story of the Civil War — the story of slavery, confederate monuments, racism — is the story of America.

Scene on Radio season 4 podcast image highlighting the words

Scene on Radio: Seasons 4 and 2

"In Season 4, John Biewen and Chenjerai Kumanyika explore democracy in America—past and present—in twelve biweekly episodes. The series retells the story of the country, or pivotal parts of that history, while exploring critical questions like, How democratic was the U.S. ever meant to be? American democracy is clearly in crisis today, but, when was it not? The series will almost certainly complicate, and may upend, our listeners’ understanding of American history.

The Season 4 title, The Land That Never Has Been Yet, is borrowed from the Langston Hughes poem “Let America Be America Again.” “O, let America be America again— / The land that never has been yet— / And yet must be. . . .”

Season 2, the Peabody-nominated Seeing White, is also worth checking out. In it, "Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika explored the history and meaning of whiteness."

Historically Black podcast logo

Historically Black from APM and The Washington Post

Objects hold history. They're evocative of stories stamped in time. As part of The Washington Post's coverage of the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture, people submitted dozens of objects that make up their own lived experiences of black history, creating a "people's museum" of personal objects, family photos and more. The Historically Black podcast brings those objects and their stories to life through interviews, archival sound and music. The Washington Post and APM Reports are proud to collaborate in presenting these rich personal histories, along with hosts Keegan-Michael Key, Roxane Gay, Issa Rae and Another Round hosts Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton.

Pod Save Then People podcast logo

Pod Save The People hosted by DeRay

On Pod Save the People, DeRay Mckesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics with Sam Sinyangwe, Kaya Henderson and De’Ara Balenger. They offer a unique take on the news, with a special focus on overlooked stories and topics that often impact people of color.

Voices from the Days of Slavery podcast image

Voices from the Days of Slavery: Stories, Songs and Memories

"Oral histories and interviews with African Americans who endured the hardships of slavery. These recordings document the first-person accounts of several individuals whose life experiences spanned the period during and after slavery. The podcasts are drawn from several collections in the American Folklife Center Archives, one of the preeminent audio-visual repositories of national and international folklife, history and cultural expressions. A production of the American Folklife Center."

Still Processing podcast logo

Still Processing Podcast from The NY Times

Still Processing is hosted by two Black, queer culture writers from The New York Times, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, who make sense of the internet, trends, social issues and pop culture at large. 

Making Beyoncé podcast logo

Making Beyoncé (WBEZ Chicago & NPR)

"From the makers of Making Obama, WBEZ Chicago presents Making Beyoncé, a new three-part bio-podcast series that explores Beyoncé Knowles' rise from local talent shows to global musical icon.​​​​​​"

Speaking of Race podcast logo

Speaking of Race

How did race become such a flash point in modern society, and why does it remain contentious in our genomic age? In this first-of-its-kind trans-disciplinary podcast, biological anthropologist Jim Bindon joins with cultural anthropologist Lesley Jo Weaver and historian of science Erik L. Peterson to explore our species' centuries long debates over how to define biological and behavioral difference, and why it continues to matter today.

One host, Jo Weaver is an assistant professor of International Studies at the University of Oregon. 

The Stoop podcast logo

The Stoop

Stories from Across the Black Diaspora.

Listen to Episode 14: The birth of Solomon about infant and maternal mortality: "He was the perfect little brown baby, and his name was Solomon. Thick curly hair, chubby legs and eyes closed with dark black lashes. Solomon's story is one that affects thousands of families whose babies are twice as likely to die before reaching the age of 1, and Black mothers are up to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes. This story is personal as we go deep into the story behind the statistic.Two sisters remember a child lost, and discover the answer to a lingering question."

The View from Somewhere podcast logo

The View from Somewhere

"The View from Somewhere: A Podcast About Journalism With A Purpose features stories of marginalized and oppressed people who have shaped journalism in the U.S. The podcast focuses on the troubled history of “objectivity” and how it has been used to gatekeep and exclude people of color, queer and trans people, and people organizing for their labor rights and communities. It is created and hosted by Lewis Raven Wallace, and produced by Ramona Martinez, with editorial support from Carla Murphy, Phyllis Fletcher, and Hideo Higashibaba, music by Dogbotic, and art by Billy Dee."

Oral Histories

According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Oral History is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving, and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events.

Story Corps Griot photo of two black men seated across from one another at a table each smiling with a microphone in front of them

Image: Copyright © 2003-2020 StoryCorps, Inc. Used under Fair Use for Educational Purposes Only.

Explore the stories from iconic elders of African Americana and others who have shaped the culture in significant ways:

5 Excuses for Slavery that Need to STOP from MTV's Decoded

In this MTV Decoded episode from 2016, Francesca Ramsey examines 5 myths about slavery in the US that are just that, myths.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Acknowledging Challenging Content

From the first group of enslaved Africans brought to Virginia in 1619, the US was founded on violence and theft against Black people. This history creates and undergirds the racism and White colonial supremacy culture that structures the everyday lives of everyone in the US today. This history is upsetting. It’s upsetting for those of us who have benefitted from it — everyone who has written this guide — and for those who have suffered from it. Stolen labor made stolen land more valuable, and the demand for land among White slaveholders accelerated the drive to force Indigenous peoples in North America off their land. We hope these resources inspire readers toward actions for Black liberation and social change.

If you find yourself struggling with emotions that come up as you engage with this history, we encourage you connect with resources and people that can support you, like the UO Counseling Center and Diversity and Inclusion Student Support from the DEI Division of Student Life. For those in the UO community who are survivors of racial violence, of gendered violence, or whose ancestors have been, this history can intersect with those more personal and communal experiences in ways that are particularly challenging. Please explore this project in ways that center your well-being as well.  

Incidents of bias or harassment on campus can be reported to the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance or Bias Education and Response Team.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does this content come from?

Seven University of Oregon librarians came together to select physical and digital textual, audio, and visual resources supplemental materials for the 2020-2021 Common Reading for the podcast, “1619”. These materials come from scholarly authoritative institutional sources from academic journals, academic books, popular reading, museums, and libraries. They were found using UO Libraries library catalog, subscription database, through the Internet, and from conversations with Black experts and colleagues. Additional UO librarians contributed to the pages for the novel, This is My America.

Why does this potentially harmful content exist on the guide?

The content on this guide exists here to support supplementary resources to the 1619 podcast. The potentially harmful content on it is here to help those learning through the UO Common Reading to aid in understanding, analyzing, and reflecting on how slavery has shaped Americans’ everyday lives through politics, society, cultural, and economics. By facing this historical context and truth, the resources on this guide deepen our understanding of the experiences of enslaved Black people and how that history benefits some and disadvantages others to this day.

How were physical and digital resources selected knowing content could be potentially harmful?

The resources available on this reading guide were selected based on:

  • Topical and thematic relationships to the “1619” podcast episodes
  • Availability of resources to the UO community and general public with emphasis on open access resources
  • Prioritizing authors and creatives and libraries, museums, and archives that center BIPOC histories
  • Connecting resources that celebrate Black American liberation histories 
  • Connecting resources about how White colonial supremacy culture has shaped the historical context of racial inequalities in the United States related to Black people

How are librarians working to help users better understand this content?

The librarians involved in the creation of this “1619” research guide are working to help users understand the podcast and this content by:

  • Highlighting the work of Black abolitionists, advocates, civil rights leaders, and ordinary people throughout the history covered by the podcast
  • Sharing information resources with faculty, students, and staff, and each other, who are learning about how slavery has shaped America
  • Engaging in conversations with other White people about how the enslavement of Africans and Black Americans has contributed to the shaping of the United States
  • Working with stakeholders in the campus community to review the content of this guide

A note on language

We capitalized the terms Black and Indigenous in this guide where the terms refer to groups that share racial or ethnic identities. We also chose to capitalize the term White, except where it appears in a quotation, to reflect a growing understanding of White as a racial identity that shapes the world. That said, there is considerable debate on whether to capitalize the term White. We have chosen to follow the recommendation of the National Association of Black Journalists as well as the scholarly opinion of Historian Nell Irvin Painter.

Where we have identified potentially offensive or profane language, we have endeavored to include a content warning.

Who contributed to this guide?

The Librarians who worked on this guide are listed below. We would like to also thank Kelly Reynolds, Reference Law Librarian, for her assistance with some legal information. We would like to express gratitude to Rachel K Mallinga for her advice and guidance about food sovereignty and local Black farming organizations.

We'd also like to acknowledge the Libraries' Diversity Committee, the Common Reading Program, and other stakeholder units and departments on campus who reviewed this guide's content.

The FAQs section of this guide was modeled on the Black Women's Suffrage Digital Collection from DPLA.

Further information

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Additional Reading on Race, Slavery, and Black Liberation

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