Visibility and Storytelling

By Mariah Fabel

Kathryn L. Morgan, c. 1980, a historian and folklorist from Philadelphia, PA who passed in 2010. (Photo: Friends Historical Library)

The education system lacks diversity in history and narratives of Black experiences. Having history textbooks written in primarily Eurocentric points of view, results in students lacking understanding of the past’s true extent. African American Storytelling is necessary because oppressed and disenfranchised populations have been denied accurate recounts of past experiences. Kathryn L. Morgan, a historian and folklorist, discussed the vitality of storytelling saying “Everyone is educated at home before they are educated at school.” This enhances the need for storytelling and visibility. To quote the Philadelphia Folklore Project Newsletter, “Self-knowledge is information necessary in the development of one’s self.”

Through storytelling, Kathryn L. Morgan recalls her childhood memories of listening to stories told to her by her mother. These stories were sometimes acted out or recounted and recreated through poetry and art. “Self-acceptance, self-help, self-discovery and self-preservation, and that the foundation for most of human productive activity is found in these four processes which are direct outcomes of self-knowledge.” The stories she recounts help preserve the values of freedom, though in the past, have been denied a platform.

The Media Mobilizing Project principles that will be emphasized in our Service Learning Project will arise in the documentary “Our Side: the other Atlantic City.” The film lifts up untold stories through visual storytelling for everyone to see. Listening to untold history exposes audiences to the past’s untold, unjust power. Showing the root cause and providing context for these narratives will provide better understanding, acknowledgment, and accountability to historical world views.

For example, we talked about redlining in urban cities, which continues to affect marginalized communities. Redlining is an intricate political tool that was used to legally segregate through housing developments and loans. This is an aspect of education that, unless it has directly affected your family’s history, you probably have not been taught about it. Morgan emphasized the need for storytelling at home to learn these truths. On the other end, these heinous laws are not taught about in the education system, yet they still have lasting effects on communities that remain in those red areas.

1940 map of redlining in Atlantic City, NJ deeming the North Side, a primarily Black neighborhood, as hazardous. (Photo: The Press of Atlantic City)

“Our Side: the other Atlantic City” tells the untold stories and narratives of segregated Atlantic City. The Media Mobilizing Project focuses on restoring untold stories and giving them light. Stockton University’s increasing presence in Atlantic City will bring about significant changes to the area. This kind of change in a city, known as gentrification, needs more storytelling and visibility. While some families who support the move in hopes of “saving” Atlantic City and creating opportunities, families already living there will be disrupted and displaced by the housing difficulties that come with an influx of students entering a city.

Those taking part in the “Beach Front Living and Learning 2018,” designated for one population, should be weary while treading into a city that does not belong to them. That same beachfront has fallen victim to racist practices and laws that continue to disparage its current residents. Through visibility and storytelling exemplified between Kathryn L. Morgan, the Media Mobilizing Project, “Our Side: the other Atlantic City,” redlining, and gentrification, there can exist transparency, understanding, and preparation for standing against the persisting inequality in America faced by marginalized communities.