Final Project: Racism in the NFL

For my final project, I decided to make a StoryMap to show the timeline of racism in the NFL. My goal was to synthesize sources to create a single cohesive timeline. I started with a broad historical overview to provide a background for the more recent events. Then, I discuss the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter protests. Finally, I end with a discussion of the current league issues in management and coaching side.

Overall, I enjoyed creating this project, but it was hard to compress information into a digital timeline. I tried to compress it as much as possible, but I think the timeline is the best way to put together large amounts of information. The StoryMap was beneficial because it created natural breaks that would have otherwise been large paragraphs of text. The use of pictures and videos also helped provide information a traditional paper could not.

I hope you enjoy my project!

Here is the link to my StoryMap:

Digital Project Proposal

I propose to use Story Maps to create a history of prejudice and patriotism (a pride and prejudice if you will) in the National Football League. Through this project I want to demonstrate how patriotic sentiment helped spur prejudices against marginalized groups in the league. With all the recent controversy going around the media (the Brian Flores class action and whatever is going on with the now Washington Commanders), this project comes at a pertinent time. Fans are starting to care more about just watching the game. However, most of the articles that come up with a basic google search are from sports journalists, not historians. They tend to focus on the recent events and less on how the environment of the league and the nation contributed to these events. 

There are no digital history projects (that I could find) about racism and patriotism in the NFL. I imagine this project as a broad linkage of some of the events that led up to the current climate of the league. Most people are aware of the Colin Kaepernick situation, but there is much more to the story. There is just starting to be more scholarship around the topic in general. My inspiration comes from Football and Manliness: An Unauthorized Feminist Account of the NFL by Thomas P. Oates and this piece by Robert Gudmestad, an undergraduate mentor of mine. 

Story Maps allows you to create both timelines and use pins on a map. I plan to use one or the other, or both, to construct my story. I think a timeline would be more compelling and useful in terms of visuals, but the spatial analysis could also prove to be helpful. I will have to compile more research before I fully decide. In terms of the timeline aspect, I want to have side by side timelines to demonstrate the greater context the events take place within. For example, the different player events and discussions that happened in the wake of the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter events. 
A huge source of spreading information about sports is Twitter. It is a non-academic platform where non-historians can see historic information in tandem with the sports news and teams they follow. There is also an online blog that publishes scholarly information about the field for academics. In terms of evaluation, internally, I want to make a project that demonstrates how visual components can create a new understanding of past events. Externally, the project will be successful if it can contribute to the broader discussion of systemic challenges faced by marginalized groups in the NFL.

Print Project Proposal

For my proposal, I want to explore amateur history presented on TikTok. 

I want to focus specifically on #ForgottenHistory. There is a specific account dedicated to forgotten history, but it is satirical. I am interested in how users use the #ForgottenHistory to spread social awareness. I’m interested in seeing if there is any correlation between when the video was posted and the events occurring at the time. For example, around the time of the Free Palestine Movement, I found a TikTok discussing Muslim aid to Jews during the Holocaust. Not only did the creator tag #ForgottenHistory, but he tagged various #FreePalestine related hashtags as a way to gain more traction. 

There is also the interesting use of place present in the videos that are tagged with #ForgottenHistory. A good chunk of the videos are people giving tours of abandoned buildings and giving their historical significance. This is reminiscent of a virtual tour many museums and historic sites offer. One TikTok goes through an Arizona cemetery and links the story of three people interred there. 

Practicum: WordPress

Hi all! I’ll be demonstrating WordPress for part of this week’s practicum. You guys are all somewhat familiar with the basics of WordPress since that is the site we’re using. I don’t see WordPress being a tool to produce a digital project alone. I see it as more of a way to share and present digital information. My goal with this post is to give a brief introduction to the platform and then use Dr. Owens’ WordPress website to provide an example of how it can be used.

WordPress is a platform that allows users to create their own website without needing advanced technical skills, like coding. It is designed for a wide variety of users from individuals to businesses. The platform has extensive features available to users at varying price points, including a free version.

Because building a website from scratch can be overwhelming, WordPress offers a variety of pre-made themes to fit different website content. There are options for blogs, business centered websites, personal professional websites, and more. The WordPress interface is extremely user friendly and offers extensive options to embed content from other platforms. As a digital historian, WordPress could be a great networking tool to disseminate research and star building a professional identity online.

Some of the platforms WordPress allows users to embed
Dr. Owens uses WordPress to create a home base for all of his scholarly activity.

The above image comes from Dr. Owens’ own WordPress website. He uses the website both as a blog and an interactive CV. He links everything he discusses to create a seamless experience for people wishing to find out more about his work. All of the links are also a great way to continue making online content more accessible and open access.

Another feature of WordPress is the ability to leave a comment on posts, which we are required to do for this class already. The social aspect is representative of the open communication digital history values. The authors are more personable than they would be if they published in a scholarly journal.

I am sure we will all become even more familiar with WordPress as the semester continues. If anyone has discovered any interesting tools, please leave a comment! I would also love to hear if anyone has already considered how to use their own WordPress site for this class!

Introduction: Carol Johnson

Hello everyone! My name is Carol Johnson. I am a first year General History Master’s student at American University. I grew up in Aurora, Colorado until I moved to DC in Summer 2021 to attend American. I received my Bachelor’s degree in History from Colorado State University in 2021. I spent five of my six semesters planning to be a Social Studies teacher. Instead of completing my student teaching, I spent my final semester earning a minor in Political Science. My semester of Political Science classes gave me the final push I needed to decide to attend law school. 

During the day, I work at a law firm in their Public Law and Policy group. I specifically assist the attorneys in the Native American Law practice group. Previously, I worked at a business immigration law firm. I was fortunate enough to work with world renowned scientific researchers that spurred my interest in Health Care and Privacy Law. I am also a Senior Research Fellow for a class taught at the National Cathedral School that educates students about slavery through African American headstones in local cemeteries. 

My research interests are rather broad, but I recently developed an interest in Sport History, particularly American football. Digital history seems to fit well with Sport History because a significant portion of the audience is likely just a sports fan, not a sport historian. I am looking forward to learning more about how to use digital resources to present information.