Courtesy: Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post
President Barack Obama takes the stage, with daughters Sasha and Malia and wife Michelle at his side, at Grant Park in Chicago on Nov. 4, 2008.

“Columbia has a rich oral history tradition and they’ve assembled an impressive group of scholars — I’m excited to start that work later this year.” -Dr. Karida Brown

These words come from our very own Dr. Karida Brown, Assistant professor in the Sociology and African American Studies departments here at UCLA. Dr. Brown earned her doctorate degree in Sociology from Brown University. Her research and teaching interests focus around historical sociology, oral history, race and ethnicity, social theory, migration, education, W.E.B. Du Bois, community archives and public arts. Because of Dr. Brown’s extensive background and expertise, we are honored to share that she has been appointed by the Obama Foundation and Columbia University to be on the Advisory Board to the official Obama Presidency Oral History Project.

This exciting news was made public on Thursday, May 16th, 2019. Columbia News officially stated, “Columbia University and the Obama Foundation are pleased to announce that the Columbia Center for Oral History Research has been selected to produce the official oral history of the presidency of Barack Obama (CC ’83). This project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of his historic terms in office. The University of Hawaiʻi and the University of Chicago will partner with Columbia in this project. The University of Hawaiʻi will focus on President Obama’s early life, and the University of Chicago will concentrate on the Obamas’ lives in Chicago.” The plans to commence with this project will take place in July.

Certainly, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will be a huge undertaking. Over the next five years, the team of appointed experts, including Dr. Brown, will help contribute to the compilation of President Barack Obama’s and Michelle Obama’s life history. They will be tasked with gathering over 400 interviews from a diverse group of individuals who will offer valuable insights and anecdotes of their personal accounts with the Obama family.

Kimberly Springer who is Columbia’s Oral History Archives’ Curator on the project offered words of wisdom about how history is “…preserving our past for use in the future…so that current and future generations of historians and citizens can learn lessons from our times.” Undoubtedly, the rich stories and details gathered from the Obamas and countless others, will leave a powerful impact. There is so much we can learn from, be inspired by, and appreciate from their lived experiences. Moreover, it will be a privilege to read about the nuances, challenges, and triumphs of the man who made history as the first African American President of the United States and his journey with his family while leading our nation.

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