Making the Familiar Strange: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Erasure Luncheon Address Given at the 29th Annual Fall Conference of the AERA SIG: Research on Women in Education

Olga M. Welch
She was preparing an assignment for her graduate research course and experiencing extreme writer's block. It just seemed as if nothing of substance was occurring, and finally in frustration she decided to leave her cubicle and wander through the library stacks. Her steps took her to the section marked "African American Studies" where she began to scan the shelves. Not long after, she found herself drawn to a book with the title, The Contributions of Blacks to the American Military: A
more » ... ve. Intrigued by both the text and the promise of narratives and faded photographs, she removed the book and began to turn the pages. Casually moving through pages that documented black men's combat contributions from the Revolutionary War to World War II, she found herself drawn to the accounts and faces of "free men," stoic foot soldiers, aviators, marines, and army battalions""and, quite unexpectedly to a picture of what appeared to be a ship's hold with thirteen black officers seated on graduated steps. Since there had been few photographs of blacks in the Navy, she stopped to look more closely at the picture and to read the names. Suddenly, her eyes widened with astonishment as she recognized the face of her own father. For the first time, at age 23, she was learning that he had been one of the first blacks commissioned as officers in the United States Navy. In that moment, his/story had become her/story too.
doi:10.21423/awlj-v16.a190 fatcat:x74b7wemmzamjffnow3m4grg7y