Introduction by Tayler Tucker '13
Storytelling acts as a way of community collection, of sharing our experiences and speaking truths. The art of folklore and of history is to pass down stories and to honor them. As Dr. Kathryn Morgan once said, "one of the first things I tell my students is to go home, look to your families, to the stories we were told as children. They're the most important stories in the world." Morgan, Sara Lawrence Lightfoot Professor Emerita of History and one of the College's revered and inspirational members passed away in 2011. The poetry and inspiration of Kathryn Morgan still echoes on this campus. Her strength and deep human intelligence radiated through her words and as I say them now in this amphitheater, I am reminded of this power. As the first black female tenured professor, she served the Swarthmore community as a wonderful voice that reminded us of the social fabric that storytelling weaves. That guidance said Professor of History Allison Dorsey, who will send us off with a few words this evening, demonstrates "the power of truth-telling and the value of standing one's ground."
Let me now introduce Professor Allison Dorsey, a brilliant professor of history at the college, who joins the Senior Class to speak through stories. Allison Dorsey comes to us with a rich journey and experiences. Beginning her studies at University of California at Davis, she completed her Bachelor's degree at University of San Francisco. She would go on to complete her Masters and Ph. D. at University of California, Irvine. Yet, as she shared with me, her freshman year American History class taught by a fiery young, and dynamic grad student now full professor, Marj Murphy, confirmed the power of telling stories, of speaking these histories. Building and continuing from that moment, Dr. Dorsey has written books on Atlanta, Georgia, teaches classes on African American, African American women, U.S., South, West, and food history, and recently completed an NEH Summer Seminar on the Black Freedom Struggle at Harvard University. Her current work delves into the biography of a black community in McIntosh County Georgia focusing on a dynamic, defiant freedman whose name is Mustapha Shaw.
These professional accomplishments only serve to highlight the amazing dedication and participation that Dr. Dorsey brings to the community. She shares not only in her scholarly work, but by being a gardener, inviting students like myself over for barbecues in the summer, and keeping up with her obsessive watching of Game of Thrones, offers her vibrant energy to Swarthmore College and beyond. As the founder of the Kathryn Morgan Poetry Festival, which takes place each spring, Dr. Dorsey generously passes on the wisdom and memory of storytelling while still finding time to continue living and making amazing stories of her own. I, along with the community collected here would like to welcome Prof. Allison Dorsey to tell us her thoughts and to thank her for the amazing presence she exudes within and without this community.