Voices From Our America

Voices Lifted, Lives Amplified

VFOA is an applied research project dedicated to preserving and disseminating the neglected narratives of the American experience. Through oral interviews, we aim to create social and educational resources that provide communities with a more complete understanding of life in Our America.

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Featured Voices In Their Own Words

A Word

From Dr. Nwankwo

“VFOA has long been a dream in the making, with the Panamanian core beginning as a seed in 1998 during my first visit to the Isthmus, and maturing over the last ten years during my sojourns to a range of sites across the Americas. Throughout the course of my travels, I have been struck by the richness of the histories and cultures I have encountered, particularly those of African Diaspora communities. As I have journeyed from place to place, however, I have been troubled by the extent to which so many of our histories, these individual and collective histories of experience, are not well known beyond (and even within) our communities themselves. My research, including my book Black Cosmopolitanism, has centered on the relations (positive and negative) between populations of African descent in the Americas, covering areas such as poetry, anthropology, and contemporary music. Simply put, it has become clear to me that we, the people of the Americas don’t know enough about ourselves or about each other. We see each other on TV, or encounter each other briefly in other ways, but don’t really know or understand the nuances of the histories, experiences that drive our approaches to viewing the world and each other. Consequently, our interactions, whether between West Indian and non-West Indian Panamanians, or between U.S. African Americans and Caribbean people, or between older generations and younger generations within the same community, are not always as enriching or as productive as they might be if we were armed with more knowledge about our own history as well of the histories of those with whom we are interacting. ”

– Ifeoma Nwankwo

Read ‘The Wisdom of the Elders’ Now

The Wisdom of The Elders Program serves African American seniors in the Murfreesboro, TN Parks and Recreation’s Patterson Park Community Center. In 2012, the City of Murfreesboro was awarded a mini-grant from the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core to gather data on the impact of a mental health intervention engaging African American seniors in the production of an autobiography (through print and/or visual media) and intergenerational exchanges. The undertaking, initiated and spearheaded by Professor Ifeoma Nwankwo in collaboration with community partners The City of Murfreesboro Department of Parks and Recreation, Dr. Barbara Hodges and Leroy Hodges, Dr. George Smith, Ms. Mary Watkins, and academic partners William Turner, Ph.D., Peabody College and James Powers, MD, Vanderbilt-Reynolds Geriatric Education was created to gather information about and develop new ways to enhance the general health, mental health and social engagement of seniors.

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The VFOA Team

Meet the team of research associates, teachers, students, and more who have made the VFOA project possible.

Community Programs

Explore some of the programs we’ve created in local communities, and become inspired to create your own!

Digital Library

VFOA’s applied research principles and tools can be used to create similar projects in other communities around the world. Take a look at the resources we’ve made available to get you started.