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By Anthony Thompson
I AAM Fellow, Carrie Meek-James Eaton Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum
My name is Anthony T. Thompson, a graduate student at Florida A&M University in the Masters of Applied Social Science program concentrating in history. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Upon graduating from North Division High School, I attended Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. While at Rust, I majored in social science education. That degree led me to become a Class A licensed teacher for the state of Mississippi, and I taught U.S. History, Mississippi Studies, World Geography, and World History. After teaching for three consecutive years, I went on to attend Florida A&M University, which is where I gained the opportunity to become an Inspiring Authorities in Museum Management (I AMM) fellow at the Carrie Meek – James N. Eaton, Sr. Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum.
My duties at the Black Archives include cataloguing and inventory training, being one of the key docents, working as one of the main docents in visitor services, creating and assisting in programs for the general public, and assisting in breaking down and putting up exhibits. All of these duties have been great learning experiences.
The Black Archives also assist me in my academic endeavors. Being a history major, I was impressed with the archival material. Though this opportunity came in handy, the curators and advisors encouraged me to use additional research facilities to broaden my experiences as a researcher, which it has. The staff at the Black Archives is also helpful in assisting fellows with their overall academic life as college students. I can recall an instance when Dr. Dawson, the director/archivist/curator, walked me to the financial aid office to help me seek out the proper information I needed to remain a student. On another occasion, the directors took time out of their evenings at the Black Archives to help me finish a final draft of a paper. Things like this are the reason why the Black Archives is more than a fellowship program to me. It’s a family that helps fulfill the needs of the overall student.
One of the research topics that I received great help on was the one I did for my research methods class called The Late Occurrence: The Preparation of African American Integration into Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida (1963-1968). I am happy to say that this paper has led me to opportunities to present at national historical conferences such as the National Association of African American Studies and the Southern Conference of African American Studies, Inc. Needless to say, I could not have accomplished this without the help of the Black Archives staff.
There are many things that I have been involved in at the Black Archives in the last semester, but the one that stuck out to me the most was the mini-seminar series for the recognition of the archival month program in October 2012. The reason why this was so important to me was that the leaders at the Black Archives let the fellows, student workers, and volunteers organize the event. The directors told us what they wanted and we had full creative and informative responsibilities to develop the event as a team. This event helped me understand what it means to be an event planner on a professional level, whether for an educational, social, or political event. This experience equipped me to be prepared for a future career in library and museum sciences.
The staff at the Black Archives has worked together to make sure that the I AMM fellows, including me, are performing at our best in and outside of the classroom. I love the quote by Dr. Dawson, “It’s not that what you are doing is not already good; all we want to do at the Black Archives is make you better.”