The Celebrating Simms project initially took shape as a community-engaged, curriculum-based initiative supported by a Fall 2015 research internship and as a Spring 2016 seminar hosted by James Madison University’s Institute for Creative Inquiry, and led by Drs. Mollie Godfrey and Seán McCarthy. Over the course of the year, faculty, students, and community partners conducted research in local archives, interviewed local residents, scanned private photographs, and designed over sixty large panels telling the history of African American education in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which have been permanently installed on the walls of the former school. The project received a national award from the Conference on Community Writing in 2017, and just received a $10,000 grant from Virginia Humanities to install a permanent version of the exhibit at Harrisonburg High School, to create a travelling version of the exhibit for local libraries and statewide institutions, and to add much-needed metadata to the exhibit's digital archive.


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