Coloring in the History


When I was little, one of my favorite book series was Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For those who are not as familiar with the series, the books are a semi-autobiographical account of Wilder's experiences growing up in the late 19th century. What I was so fascinated by was with the little, seemingly trivial, details of day-to-day life. Ultimately, years after the last time I cracked one of those books open, it is those details I remember, because those details allowed me to color in a black-and-white account of history with a personal story I could empathize with and a story I was moved by.

It's the same with the oral history project. I sat in on the interview of Dianna Black and Joe Omo-Osagie, an interracial couple. Through their touching personal tales, like Dianna's story about her very traditional grandmother's gradual and begruding acceptance of Joe, I saw a outline of facts and history that I already knew, but it was only with their stories that I got to color in those outlines with deeper understanding. For example, of course I knew that many white families did not approve of their children marrying people of other races, but it was only when Dianna told her story that I feel as though I understood both what she went through, and where her traditional family came from.

It's almost absurd how substantial a good interview can be. For one, it was simply exciting to learn more about the biographies of Joe and Dianna, the way that one would get to when sitting in on a 90-minute-long interview with them. For another, it was satisfying to learn about what kinds of values the couple treasures, how important the story of their marriage is to them, and how their individual backgrounds add to how they think about different issues and how they approach family, and life in general. 

Many people crave good stories. As one of them, I remain incredibly proud to know that the Right to Marry project will provide the platform through which tales will add color between the barebones of history, by busting assumptions, enriching listeners' understanding of history, and touching people to their core.

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