This post was written by Jocelyn Hurtado, who was selected to be one of this year’s virtual DLF Forum Community Journalists.
Jocelyn Hurtado is a native Miamian who worked as an archivist at a community repository for four year. She is experienced in working with manuscript, art and artifact collections pertaining to a community of color whose history has often been overlooked. Ms. Hurtado, understands the responsibility and the significance of the work done by community archivists and has seen firsthand that this work not only affects the present-day community but that it will continue to have a deep-rooted impact on generations to come.
Ms. Hurtado also has experience promoting collections through exhibits, presentations, instructional sessions, and other outreach activities which includes the development and execution of an informative historical web-series video podcast.
Ms. Hurtado earned her Associate Degree in Anthropology from Miami-Dade College and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Florida. She also completed the Georgia Archives Institute Program.
This year has been full of new experiences and we all have faced the challenges of adapting to the new professional realities of relying on technology to complete our work, promoting the goals of our organization all while staying connected with communities we serve virtually. Our phones and laptops are now on the top of the list of tools we cannot function without and it’s arguably just as valuable as a pencil or finding aid to an archivist, at least from my own personal experience. As a first-time attendee and a community journalist, I was excited and unsure of how the 2020 DLF Forum would operate on a virtual platform. Like millions around the world I’ve been working remotely for months and learned to adapt but I was still hesitant on how attendees would be able to truly connect to the panelist, fellow attendees and with the subject of each talk remotely. It is no secret that librarians, archivists, historians or anyone in a related field have a tendency to be introverted and from my own personal experience starting a conversation, connecting with others and networking can be stressful. However, I was quickly positively surprised on how easy it was to start a conversation at the conference. I enjoyed the Slack application in which attendees were able to share thoughts, ideas and pose questions about each session. I certainly viewed more opinions, concepts and panels virtually than I probably would have in person. I liked the fact that I could have access to the sessions anytime which is great for anyone who has a busy schedule as well as any problems accessing the videos due to the digital divide caused by finances or other factors such as remoteness or environmental factors such as hurricanes or storms.
In the opening plenary I was delighted to hear the acknowledgement of the indigenous people and their lands in regards to the location of the original conference and area that was being discussed. The keynote speaker, Dr. Stacy Patton, was simply incredible and asked us to grapple with a very important question: Do Black Lives Matter in galleries, libraries, archives and museums? I believe we all know and can say historically the answer is no, black lives have systematically been erased and unwelcome in these spaces. 2020 has become the year of reckoning for some institutions and for many in this field that have been part of this problem. Thus, the question becomes what now? How can meaningful and genuine change come about? There is no one size fits all plan and up to in the field to do the work and realize there will never be a timeline or an exact moment where it will be marked as done. I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Patton a question and was also able to see other questions posed by fellow attendees. It created a hub for sharing experiences and problems encountered in our own institutions which was able to foster a connected moment and experience.
Dr. Patton hit the nail on the head when reciting the Claude McKay poem, “If We Must Die.” It was a couple of days before Election Day and oh how the words aptly describe the current era and the rawness of it all. During her speech I reflected on the work of Schomberg and many other black intellectuals whose worked and made centers were black lives do matter and their stories were properly preserved. I also reflected on my experience working at a black community repository, in a space made for black lives to matter. I also recognize another important question: Which Black Lives Matter in these spaces? Women, individuals overlooked due to their sexual orientation, and those from a lower socioeconomic status or position have had their stories overlooked. There is so much work to be done and this has encouraged and highlighted the importance of pushing the boundaries and the sharing of ideas.
The Recording Restorative Justice and Accountability: The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive presented by Gina Nortonsmith, Raymond Wilkes, Amanda Rust and Drew Facklam was inspiring. The work done by the team of telling the stories of victims and giving a voice is imperative. Prior to this session I did not know of The Civil Rights and the Restorative Justice Project and was glad to learn about the research being conducted along with support policy initiatives on racial hate crimes during the Jim Crow Era and that justice is still being pursued for the victims and their families. The statement “I like to think of the investigator as the foundation for an archive, while the archivist is the architect and engineer, providing structure and organization in order to complete the building, i.e. the archive” by Raymond Wilkes beautifully explained the importance of the collaborative efforts and the relationship member of the team had to the task.
I am looking forward to next year’s DLF Forum and hope/expect it to continue the focus on the community.