Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Digital Witness to the U.S. Presidential Inauguration

Cross posted to the Storychasers blog.

Rene Hall’s video, “A Day to Remember,” is one of my favorite digital storytelling examples to share with others about the potential and power of people becoming “digital witnesses.”

Find more videos like this on Celebrate Oklahoma Voices!

Renee personifies the concept of a “digital witness” in this video because she powerfully communicated with images and audio the experiences, emotions, and observations she made when she personally witnessed the inauguration of President Barack Obama. As humans, our brains are wired for stories. When we hear someone tell a story like this about their own life, particularly when they draw deeply upon their own background experiences and life history in reflecting on the event, the resulting story can be an extremely memorable anecdote we may carry with us for a long time. Renee added music from the actual event to her video as well, to further communicate the sounds and emotions of President Obama’s inauguration day.

Several of the ideas and phrases Renee shared in this video were also quoted in the February 6, 2009, Hugo Daily News article, “Mrs. Hall Goes to Washington.” These are some of her quotations from her interview with a local Hugo reporter.

My husband and my birthdays are on Jan. 18, and 19, so we usually try to do something… So he said ‘let’s go to the inauguration.’ Well, I had thought about it back in November and so we thought it would be something fun to go to. We just decided that we couldn’t miss this event…. We lived through segregation, segregated schools, separate water fountains and the whole bit… So we never thought we would see this day. This is just something that you really didn’t think was possible. You didn’t think we had evolved as far as the hope of Martin Luther King. That is what really drove us to want to go… We went to a special event at the Smithsonian on the Monday before the inauguration. The event was in honor of Martin Luther King. At the very end of the program we all joined hands and sang ‘We Shall Overcome.’ While this was going on, I looked around at all the people –– young, old, black, white –– with tears in their eyes singing that song. There was a feeling of overpowering love and unity there among all the people… We lived through a generation where we had to walk around with downcast eyes… In the old days, my great-grandparents, who were slaves, would be killed just for looking a white person in the eyes. To be able to lift your eyes as Obama lifted his hand to take the oath, he lifted the hopes of a lot of people. Young people now know that with hard work and sacrifice, the American Dream is possible… I certainly never thought that I would live to see a black man become President of the United States… So the expectations have been raised. And a lot of kids are looking up to this man because he has achieved something that we did not think he would be able to achieve. He raised the hopes of many Americans and showed us that the things that are promised in the Constitution are meant for all of us. This gives our young people something to hope for… Black people alone make up a small percentage of people in this country… So we are not the ones that put Obama in office. So just to know that the world is changing from the way it was and it is evolving into that great nation that it was always meant to be. We are living up to those ideals that the forefathers had in mind… The whole event was truly inspiring… It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I will never forget it. I will be able to tell my grandson when he is studying, that I was there and I witnessed this event.

If you have created or seen other videos like this which exemplify someone being a “digital witness,” as Rene Hall was here, please consider adding it to the StoryChasers blog. You can register as a guest blogger, and after review your submitted post will be approved to be published.

As a non-profit organization, Storychasers wants to amplify and share constructive examples of “digital witnesses” using video, audio, images, and text to record and share personal perspectives about history, current events, and everyday living. As of this writing in August 2009, over four hundred videos created by Oklahoma teachers and students are available on the “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” learning community. Many of these short films fit this definition of a “digital witness” video. In upcoming weeks we’ll be asking COV project facilitators to join our Storychasers’s blog and share some of their favorite COV video examples. If you haven’t yet subscribed and added Storychasers to your Google Reader (or other feed reader / aggregator) please do! While the primary project currently sponsored by Storychasers focuses specifically on Oklahoma, as an organization we have a national / international focus and do not / will not focus exclusively on digital storytelling and being a “digital witness” only in a single state or region.

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