We—who we refer to as ourselves, the researchers of this project who are also students engaged in activism at Davidson College—came in our first years aware that there were legitimate, urgent, and complex needs for social and institutional change on our campus. From our own experiences of marginalization to those of our classmates and alumni, we were and are aware of the College’s institutional failures. What we were not initially aware of, however, was that the lifespans of social movements and efforts at Davidson themselves could inherently possess an issue: the dying of social movements and the subsequent forgetting of the activist work led by past students who had gone abroad, graduated, or had their time required of them in other capacities of their lives.
A lack of continuity of social movements has enabled the forgetting of previous students’ work that so critically established spaces for conversation and change on the campus; specifically though, a lack of continuity or documentation of such important work allowed for a lack of accountability to the administration and broader Davidson community.
Spaces for historical memory are vital components for the continuity of activist efforts. This is a research project funded by a Justice, Equality, and Community grant that enables us to archive student activism of the past and present on Davidson’s campus. Our research culminates in digital timelines of various activist movements’ organizing, barriers, and successes; advice from past activists; and organizing strategies that we have synthesized from our research.
We make this project not just to pay homage to the student activists that came before us, but also to provide an accessible starting point for future students to know what resources and history Davidson holds. Demands Met, Voices Lost (DMVL) seeks to eliminate the inter-generational forgetting of student activist work on our campus, and we develop it with the intention to provide future activists some of the contextual tools they need for their work to come.