The African American Museum & Library at Oakland has taken a major step towards preserving the narratives of Black America. The museum recently received a grant that will allow them to digitize rare footage of protests that took place during the 60s and 70s, Hoodline reported.
The grant which is worth $19,950 was awarded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, the news outlet writes. Amongst the pieces of footage that will be digitized are four audiotapes and 98 films that capture protests led by the Black Panther Party and students who led campus demonstrations denouncing the Vietnam War.
In the collection, there’s footage of Black Panther leader Huey Newton’s trial and a protest held by high school students after the death of Melvin Black; a teen who was shot and killed by Oakland police in 1979. A lot of the footage was donated to the museum by Henry J. Williams nearly 26 years ago. Susan Anderson, who serves as the chief curator at the museum, told Hoodline that the video and audiotapes will “fill in the gaps about the history of California and African Americans and the Black Power movement that started in California.” She added that the curators refrained from watching some of the films because the film material was fragile and they did not want to damage it.
The museum will start to post footage from the video collection online next spring.
Several institutions are working to preserve Black history and capture the essence of the Black experience in America. Last year, the National Museum of African American History in Washington created the Community Curation Program to help Black families digitize old photos and footage. “In a very radical way, we recognize the importance of these vernacular, homemade images, this folk cinema, as an alternate history to the kinds of history that the mass media tells,” museum media archivist Walter Forsberg told The Baltimore Sun.