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"A collection of stories is the way to rewrite a singular history that has been in textbooks....I think it takes a lot of people telling a lot of stories about what their experience has been, what the experience of their ancestors has been."
The speaker is Tommy Orange, an Oakland-based media consultant, writer, and digital storyteller who is an enrolled member of the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and describes himself as "a father, a son, a brother, an uncle, a partner, a storyteller, and a committed member and servant of his community." For Issue #3 of The Republic of Stories, our quarterly online publication, Arlene Goldbard interviewed Tommy and Tony Platt, author of books inlcuding Grave Matters: Excavating California’s Buried Past, who lives in Berkeley and Big Lagoon, California, and serves as secretary of the Coalition to Protect Yurok Cultural Legacies at O-pyuweg (Big Lagoon).
We are certain you will find their conversation as powerful and inspiring as we did, which is why we've created a special link that allows you to read the entire issue online. We promise that future issues will be just as illuminating and useful, which is why we're extending a special offer. Donate at least $25 now and get all three back issues free, plus a year's subscription beginning this fall.
In the interview, Tony says that he tries "to deal in my stories with hard issues of the past, issues dealing with race—this history of California that is such a tragic history and mostly gets forgotten and discarded and turned into upbeat mythological stories that get taught to our kids. There’s now a very rich historical record about California. If anybody asks us now what is the tragic side of California history, we could give a good answer from the historical record and oral histories and so on. But when we look at public histories—what shows up in textbooks, in schools, in public places, in memorials, rituals, commemorations—here we seem to practice a scrupulous amnesia and not deal with it. So that’s what’s preoccupying me now: how to take a lot of the things that we know and make them a part of everyday common sense, a part of not just a historical record, but a public conversation about political issues."
That's the public conversation we at StoryCenter have contributed to for the last twenty years.
It's also the vital conversation you're going to hear about in our next mailing, when we unveil a national series of free workshops emerging from StoryLab, our hub for innovation. Last spring, we held All Together Now workshops to start an intergenerational conversation about standing up for our values. Tony Platt took part in one of them, and you'll find a link in The Republic of Stories to see all the resulting digital stories by elders in Berkeley and young people in New Haven. Beginning this fall, we'll offer free All Together Now workshops across the country to honor and renew the civil rights movement legacy that is being celebrated as our nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Our next Republic of Stories interview will be part of that reflection, and we don't want you to miss it. Just donate at least $25 now and get all three back issues free, plus a year's subscription beginning this fall.
And please watch your inbox for the next remarkable iteration of All Together Now, creating intergenerational conversations about civil and human rights.
All good wishes,
Founder and Executive Director