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MTSU students win more major honors for Bradley Ac...

MTSU students win more major honors for Bradley Academy’s African-American education exhibit

Members of the public get a sneak peek at the “Education and Empowerment: African-American Schools in Rutherford County

MTSU public history graduate students can spend the summer looking back on a year full of awards resulting from their hard work while the public enjoys and learns from their diligent scholarship.

“Education and Empowerment: African-American Schools in Rutherford County,” an interactive exhibit installed at Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center in spring 2017, won top honors for “Student Work in Museums” at the Southeastern Museums Conference in New Orleans.

Second-year master’s candidate Typhanie Schafer of Audubon, Minnesota, and second-year doctoral student Lindsey Fisher of Newcastle, Pennsylvania, accepted the award for MTSU.

MTSU public history graduate students who worked on the “Education and Empowerment: African-American Schools in Rutherford County" interactive exhibit at the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center are joined by their professor and the Bradley Academy manager to celebrate the awards won by the project. Shown on the back row are, from left, Dr. Brenden Martin, director of the MTSU Public History Program, and students Elizabeth Johnson, Jordan Alexander and Pablo Carillo. On the front row are Lindsey Fisher, April Blevins, Adam Glass, Typhanie Shafer, Faith Bagley, Dylan Hinton, and Vonchelle Stembridge, manager of Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center. (Photo submitted)

MTSU public history graduate students who worked on the “Education and Empowerment: African-American Schools in Rutherford County” interactive exhibit at the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center are joined by their professor and the Bradley Academy manager to celebrate the awards won by the project. Shown on the back row are, from left, Dr. Brenden Martin, director of the MTSU Public History Program, and students Elizabeth Johnson, Jordan Alexander and Pablo Carillo. On the front row are Lindsey Fisher, April Blevins, Adam Glass, Typhanie Shafer, Faith Bagley, Dylan Hinton, and Vonchelle Stembridge, manager of Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center. (Photo submitted)

The students revamped the gallery of the Bradley/Holloway room at Bradley Academy, located at 415 S. Academy St. in Murfreesboro, to feature a more comprehensive exhibit that included Holloway High School. That facility was built to educate African-Americans before school integration and now serves as a nonzoned choice school for Rutherford County students that also provides the county’s Night School Program.

“We interpreted the history of African-American education going back into the early 1800s, really, through the 1960s,” said Dr. Brenden Martin, director of MTSU’s Public History Program.

Public History Program logo web“But then we continued the story into the creation of the Bradley Academy Historical Society, the preservation of the building and its conversion into a museum in 2000.”

Jordan Alexander, a second-year doctoral student from Atlanta, Georgia, helped craft the project’s mission statement and interviewed Paul Marks Banks Jr., one of the first African-Americans to attend a previously all-white high school in Murfreesboro.

“It was a very eye-opening and empowering experience to see how my people actually took their own history and made something out of it in spite of the oppressive circumstances that they were living in,” Alexander said.

Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center logoSchafer emphasized the importance of working with the historical society in telling the story and letting the African-American community guide the students instead of having students reinterpreting the narrative through their own eyes.

“We come in and we try to present it in a way that uses … our professional knowledge, but also the interpretation and the feelings and the ideas of the communities,” Schafer said.

Project manager Fisher poured her research efforts into the exhibit, then said she came to realize that turning all that information into something tangible appealed to her.

“I love building exhibits,” Fisher said. “That’s something I didn’t know about myself, but I really like putting together exhibits and seeing how things fit together in a room.”

Part of the finished “Education and Empowerment: African-American Schools in Rutherford County" interactive exhibit at the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center showcases the many students, teachers, staff members and community supporters of Holloway High School, built built to educate African-Americans before school integration. (Photo submitted)

Part of the finished “Education and Empowerment: African-American Schools in Rutherford County” interactive exhibit at the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center showcases the many students, teachers, staff members and community supporters of Holloway High School, built built to educate African-Americans before school integration. (Photo submitted)

With the assistance of Alecia Heidt from MTSU’s Information Technology Division, the display includes two interactive elements. One is an interactive story map; the other shows historical footage of Holloway High School with an audio track of oral history interviews.

“This is pretty much becoming a requirement for modern historic exhibit display,” Martin said. “You have to provide things that people can do rather than just be a passive learner, reading the text and seeing the graphics.”

In addition to the regional museum conference award, the Tennessee Parks and Recreation Association recognized Martin’s students last year for their museums award. Martin himself received the association’s Volunteer Service Award for mentoring the students involved in the Bradley project.

You can learn more about this recognition, as well as more details on the Bradley Academy project, here.

Also, in March 2018, the Tennessee Association of Museums recognized the project with two awards of excellence: one for digital interactives and one for the permanent exhibit.

Fisher also won the Best in Graduate Research award at V. W. Starr’s “History across the Humanities” conference in Youngstown, Ohio in January 2018.

For more information about the MTSU Public History Program, contact Martin at 615-898-2643 or brenden.martin@mtsu.edu. For more information about Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center, call 615-962-8773.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Members of the public get a sneak peek at the “Education and Empowerment: African-American Schools in Rutherford County" interactive exhibit at the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center during its “soft opening” in May 2017. MTSU public history graduate students created the multi-award-winning exhibit. (Photo submitted)

Members of the public get a sneak peek at the “Education and Empowerment: African-American Schools in Rutherford County” interactive exhibit at the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center during its “soft opening” in May 2017. MTSU public history graduate students created the multi-award-winning exhibit. (Photo submitted)

This touch screen display at Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center is part of an interactive historic exhibit titled “Education and Empowerment: African American Education in Rutherford County” completed by MTSU public histor graduate students. (File photo courtesy of Jim Davis/ Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation)

This touch screen display at Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center is part of an interactive historic exhibit titled “Education and Empowerment: African American Education in Rutherford County” completed by MTSU public histor graduate students. (File photo courtesy of Jim Davis/ Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation)


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