I’m a memory scholar, student of American history and civil rights researcher. I am also a teacher, public speaker and author.

History is an important part of social justice and community empowerment. I have interviewed fishermen in Lower Alabama; black students who desegregated Clinton, Tennessee, High School; coal miners in Appalachia; emeritus professors and business leaders. They have taught me that very few of us are heroes or villains.

History is the story of human beings, individuals who respond in fear and bravery to events they set in motion and yet never controlled. And many of them end up doing things they never expected, sometimes for the good of those around them and at other times doing injury to people they love.

I’ve started to wonder about the power within these stories: what would happen if history included all these voices? Would this new, fuller version of the past help us fight for a more equal future?