Graduate Students

Isabella Garrison – 2021 Vivian Malone Fellow

Vivian Malone walking inside Foster Auditorium and in front of history faculty members

The Vivian Malone Fellowship is a fellowship designed for graduate students who see community history as necessary in their own research and historical practice. Summersell Center Director Dr. John Giggie explained his creation of the fellowship, “The fellowship grew out of my hope to create opportunities for students to work closely with community partners to uncover lost histories of the South and create new ways of thinking about scholarship and our public obligations as historians.”

Isabella Garrison

As the current fellow, graduate student Isabella Garrison has worked with Dr. Giggie, different community leaders, and a group of dedicated undergraduate and graduate students over the summer to develop a core group of classes and research projects dedicated to researching hidden histories in the South. Now, this fall, Isabella co-teaches the undergraduate southern queer history class with Dr. Giggie; acts as a graduate mentor in the Race & Injustice course; and works with Dr. Giggie and our community partners to organize and execute oral history efforts around queer history and the Civil Rights Movement, a mapping research project of downtown Tuscaloosa, and county-level research initiatives in the history of racial terror.

Isabella explained, “For me, this fellowship represents the dedicated support of my department as I pursue the practice of history I wish to continue once I leave UA. I’m not sure where else I would find the same commitment to community history and my personal research, or a department or mentor who’d value this community work as equal to my own research. With this fellowship, I get to create spaces I believe push students and instructors to the highest level of history, demanding we work from outside ten Hoor to develop a more rigorous scholarship and see undergraduates and community partners as vital to working in the difficult hidden histories of the South. The fellowship presents a unique opportunity to formalize my commitment to the spaces and work I value most.”

Jana Venable

Jana Venable

Jana Venable began doing research on lynching in Elmore County in the Spring of 2020 for her HY 430 paper and continued that research with the help of her classmates in Dr. Giggie’s Alabama Memory class in Fall 2020. Jana began working with the Elmore County Black History Museum in the Spring of 2021 and is continuing the partnership and local lynching research as a part of her graduate research in the History Department at UA along with the Summersell team.

Jana Venable and Jackie Lacey

On Friday, September 24, 2021, Jana along with Michael Guthrie, Isabella Garrison, John Pace, and Dr. John Giggie all took a two-hour long trip to Wetumpka, in Elmore County, Alabama to visit with some of the leaders at the Elmore County Black History Museum. The Summersell Center is working closely with the leaders of the museum to create an exhibit about the lynching and racial violence in Elmore County and to create a memorial to the lives that were lost. Jana explained, “Our goal is to create more than just an exhibit, but a living piece of community history that puts together the stories and legacies of violence that have been passed down for generations.”

During the visit, they had the privilege to hear from a 92-year-old Elmore County native, Jackie Lacey. She shared stories of violence in the community that she remembers hearing from her father and from her friends over the years. Ms. Lacey emphasized the value of oral and community histories and sees them as valuable sources and wants to see them displayed at the museum and remembered.