Friday, July 31, 2015

Mellon Scholars Program: "A life changing and motivating experience"

In a series of occasional blog posts, participants in our Mellon Scholars Internship and Workshop programs will introduce themselves, discuss their experiences at the Library Company, and share their goals for pursuing careers in the field of early African American history. This program is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

My name is Joshua Johnson, and I am a senior history student at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina. In my own research I focus primarily on the time period from the end of the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. I have always aspired to be involved in history, whether it be in teaching, research, archives, or even something as deceptively simple as being a tour guide at a historic location. This is one of the reasons I applied for the Mellon Scholars Internship; this opportunity provided me personally not only with a wealth of previously unknown information but the skills and confidence to apply and hopefully get into a good graduate program. 

I’m currently planning to apply for graduate schools with African American history and/or studies specialties where I hopefully will be able to continue my research on Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement. I believe this internship has provided me not only with a great boost to my CV, but has helped me craft a fantastic application packet, work on my personal statement, and write a marvelous writing sample dealing with African American history. 

My research paper here has discussed the widely differing opinions of African-Americans throughout the early part of the 18th century focusing on statements regarding emigration to places such as Liberia, Haiti, Canada, and a number of other places. My research for this paper will help me counter the idea of the African American belief monolith: the popular perception that all African Americans believe and think the same way. This paper argues that within years of the end of the Revolutionary War and the nation’s founding, African Americans frequently debated whether to stay in the United States and fight for their rights, or to leave entirely. 

These four weeks at the Library Company and working with esteemed and established scholars has been a life changing and motivating experience.

Joshua Johnson
2015 Mellon Scholars Intern

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