Meet Amistad’s Spring 2019 Interns and Student Assistants

Amistad boasts a strong internship and mentoring program that helps local high school and college students meet educational and community service requirements as part of their studies. Grant funding also allows the Center to occasionally hire student assistants to help with high-priority, short-term projects. Such opportunities assist the Center staff in organizing and cataloging its collections, increasing access through digitization, designing exhibitions and other tasks. They also provide valuable experience in archival and library research and methods and the preservation of cultural heritage to students who may be considering a future in the library/archival fields or other career paths.

Amistad is fortunate to once again have hosted a wonderful cohort of students this Spring semester. Profiles of our interns/assistants and the projects they are working on are featured below.

Lerin Williams

Lerin Williams is a second-year master’s student in Ethnomusicology at Tulane University. Her research interests lie in African Diaspora studies, identity, oral history, tourism, music of the African Diaspora, transnational knowledge production, linguistics and liberation movements. Williams has a background in music education and jazz studies. Her study of music performance and fieldwork has led her to Brazil, as well as the Caribbean.

“As a graduate assistant at the Amistad Research Center, I am creating descriptions of field recordings by Lorenzo Dow Turner. Turner was an African-American linguist and ethnographer, native to North Carolina. He dedicated his life’s scholarship to understanding the interconnectivity between the ethnic groups of West Africa and its diaspora, ranging from the Caribbean and Brazil to the Gullah Geechee communities in the North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia sea islands. Turner was a pioneering linguist whose ethnographic research and system of illuminating commonalities between cultures and languages revolutionized the field in 1949. Turner’s work dispelled myths of Black inferiority and substantiated the irrefutable links between a myriad of African cultures (including Yoruba, Igbo, Wolof, among many others) and their descendants in the Americas.”

Simenesh Semine

Simenesh Semine is a sophomore at Tulane University double majoring in Political Science and African Studies with a minor in Public Health. She is currently completing a fellowship through the university’s Center for Public Service.

“At Amistad, I have been compiling descriptions and information about the New Orleans-based TV show, “Just for the Record.” “Just for the Record” began in 1987 and was the city’s first gay and lesbian advocacy show that interviewed local activists, business owners and members of the LGBT community. Producer and interviewer Loretta Mims also went to businesses in the area that supported LGBT rights and told viewers about ways to support different organizations such as the NO/AIDS Task Force. The show also covered larger events such as New Orleans’ GayFest (later Gay Pride) and The March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation in 1993. This project has been really interesting because I get to learn about what gay advocacy looked like in late-1980s/early-1990s New Orleans, while also learning about the city. I hope that because of Amistad’s work, more people will have access to “Just for the Record” and be able to get a view into the city’s gay culture and pride.”

Three students – Kristen Osborne, Ellen Williams and Noah Weiser – came to us through the service-learning requirement of a Modern African American history course taught by Dr. Rosanne Adderley of Tulane University’s History Department. All three worked to further inventory three important collections at Amistad: The Comics and Graphic Novels Collection, The Zine Collection, and The Janette Faulkner Ethnic Notions Sheet Music Collection. Each reflects on their experiences below.

Kristen Osborne inventorying publications

The Ethn