With support from WFU’s Slavery, Race, and Memory Project, this spring Wake Forest junior Kate Pearson will work with museum staff remotely to identify and learn more about African Americans connected to the original campus between 1820 and 1930. Her work will support new exhibits at the museum and be a resource for community members interested in family history. To learn more about Kate, we asked her to complete a short questionnaire.
Tell us about yourself.
Hello, I’m a Junior History major with minors in American Ethnic Studies and Politics and International Affairs. I come from a big family, so close-knit community has always been a big part of my life. I’ve tried to carry that with me as I build bridges at Wake Forest through my academic and extracurricular work. I try to enact positive change and put words to action whenever possible, at least when I’m not perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe.
What interested you in this internship and what do you hope to learn?
I’ve always been in love with history, more specifically, historical museums. My parents whisked me away to Washington D.C. when I turned nine and I enjoyed it more than any potential party. I’ve always enjoyed immersing myself in more tangible forms of history education and when given the opportunity to work behind the scenes, I jumped at the chance. I hope to learn how to be a responsible historian, the ins and outs of archive work, and how to promote community-centered exhibition.
What are your personal historical interests?
I’m passionate about Black studies in its various forms. From Civil Rights, to the Underground Railroad, Black history sparks my academic excitement. More broadly, I tend to focus my studies on the early 20th century during reconstruction through World War II. I’m currently writing my thesis on the intersections of Jewish oppression in the Holocaust and Blackness, in an effort to bring those two arenas together.
What has been your favorite class at Wake Forest? What did you enjoy most about it?
When I participated in the Wake Washington program I had the pleasure of taking a constitutional law course that provided me with a new historical perspective–one centered on the courts. As a reflecting body, I find the Supreme Court to be a prime spot to study the past and to understand where we’re headed in the present. Dr. Harriger of the Wake Forest Politics Department also taught me how to be a better scholar outside of her classroom, and I carry knowledge and skills from that experience into my work today.
What are your plans after graduating from Wake Forest?
After taking a gap year, I’d like to pursue a graduate degree in either history or law. While the details remained to be determined, I’m certain that I want to work in educational equity. Whether that’s doing curriculum development for a museum or lobbying for a racial justice nonprofit, I intend to be doing equity work at a professional level.
What’s one book you’ve read recently that you’d recommend to others and why?
What You Owe Me written by Bebe Moore Cambell is a beautiful piece of historical fiction that was given to me by my mother and carries with it generational wisdom and historical commentary that is hard to find in a novel. For those who enjoy culturally comparative stories with just a hint of drama, I’d highly recommend it.