By Katerin Collazo, Baylor University

As a first-time attendee to an AASLH Annual Meeting, I was honored to be a recipient for this year’s Douglas Evelyn Scholarship for Diversity. Currently, I am a second-year graduate student in Baylor University’s Museum Studies graduate program, working on my capstone current issues research project about solidarity statements and performative allyship in museums. I was ecstatic to attend AASLH 2020 as the theme and sessions offered are extremely relevant during this period in time, as well as relate to my capstone project.

The overall theme of ancestral legacy was seen throughout the sessions that I attended in discussing the topics of racial injustice and COVID-19, as society is and will still be dealing with the aftermath of these issues for some time. I started off the first day with the incredible session of “#MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter: Black Women Leaders Overcoming the Double Burden” as the panelists gave their important perspective about the difficulties of working as Black women in the field. The interview with Dr. Ariana Curtis about her work was so enjoyable and uplifting to see Afro-Latinx success and representation in museums.

In the “#BlackMuseumsMatter: Agents of Change through Storytelling as Places of Healing” session, the panelists directly referenced the topic about museums’ solidarity statements and their performative allyship, which I was extremely excited to cite their professional perspectives about this issue that I am researching. The “Intersecting Pandemics of Racial Injustice and COVID-19 and Its Impact on the Future of Public History” session really combined the topics of both plagues infecting the U.S. and how can we move toward progressive change.

The “IndigenousLivesMatter: Centering Voices of Indigenous People” session really cemented the idea that true solidarity starts with the smallest of changes, such as establishing land acknowledgements to raise further awareness about Native issues. The closing keynote with Christy Coleman was the perfect way to end the Annual Meeting, with words of affirmation, inspiration, and advice about how fighting for social change will be for a lifetime because it is the right thing to do.

The sessions mentioned above were the ones that stuck out to me the most because they were inspiring, emotional, educational, and uplifting. The others that I attended were also equally important, but the aforementioned were the most relevant to my interests in the field as an emerging museum professional. I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity and I will forever cherish the experience learning from such an incredible group of museum professionals.

Finally, what kind of ancestor will I be? Like my ancestors before me, I will be a revolutionary fighting for justice, equality, and peace for every single historically marginalized group in all aspects of the museum field, our society, the nation, and around the world.

Recordings of the AASLH 2020 General Sessions are now available free to download in our Resource Center, and you can still register for the conference to get access to all session recordings now.