Skip to Content
by Ann Marie Deer Owens | Apr. 7, 2017, 11:58 AM
The Life Lessons from and for African American Seniors exhibition showcases the art and genealogy projects of participants in the Voices from Our America Wisdom of the Elders project, now called African American Voices of Past and Present. The public is invited to engage with the creators of these unique pieces during the free event, which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon on the Sarratt Center’s promenade.
Wisdom of the Elders, an initiative focused on revealing and recognizing older adults’ life- and soul-sustaining wisdoms and productively incorporating them into K–12, undergraduate, graduate and health professions education, was founded by Ifeoma Nwankwo, associate provost for strategic initiatives and partnerships and associate professor of English. She is also principal investigator and lead faculty member of the related Wisdom Working Group, a trans-institutional program.
Wisdom of the Elders evolved from Nwankwo’s Voices from Our America research project—dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating forgotten, hidden or unknown stories, and life lessons of the broader American experience and supporting their engagement in educational and public spaces.
Nwankwo credits her Jamaican grandparents with nurturing her keen interest in uncovering the neglected histories of past generations, especially those of African and Caribbean descent, and preserving their stories for today’s learners.
Wisdom of the Elders began at the Patterson Park Community Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 2012. Three years later the city of Murfreesboro began funding a continuation of the project, which has been renamed African American Voices of Past and Present.
“These seniors have multiple life lessons to share as learners, innovators and teachers,” Nwankwo said. “The very act of living a long life and having to deal with as many challenges as they do make them wise individuals and the writers of many monographs.”
Following the exhibition, the “Voices from Our America: Preservers, Pathbreakers and Pioneers” spring symposium will take place at the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center from 1 to 2 p.m. The discussion will focus on the importance of preserving African American communities’ past histories and cultures.
“We define the ‘preservers’ as the public history scholars, professionals and lay archivists who have been compiling collections of materials and have been doing that yeoman’s labor for a long time,” Nwankwo said. “It’s not labor that people usually observe, but it is hard work that is invaluable to the preservation of the history of a particular community.”
Serving as the symposium’s “preservers” are:
Lucius T. Outlaw Jr., professor of philosophy, will moderate the discussion. Seating is limited in the Black Cultural Center’s auditorium.
Ann Marie Deer Owens, (615) 322-NEWS
myVU, myVU News, releases, Strategic Plan, Trans-institutional Programs African American, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, art, Arts and Science, Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Chancellor's Higher Education Fellowship, DAR, Department of English, free, Ifeoma Nwankwo, Lectures and events, Lucius Outlaw, Office of the Provost, philosophy, Sarratt Student Center, TIPs, trans-institutional programs
There are lots of ways to keep up with Vanderbilt. Choose your preferred method: