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For Danielle Weaver ’07 (Belle Meade, N.J.), the past helps make sense of the present.

Weaver’s independent study project consists of an installation of photographs and quotes found in the College archives, which is on display in the Portlock Black Cultural Center through May 26.

  • The McDonogh Report celebrates the contributions of African Americans to the Lafayette community

The project is about the recruitment brochure “Rapped in Black” that started around 1969 or 1970 to recruit students of color to the College. The brochure was completely student-run and included a variety of interviews with various students of color on their Lafayette experiences. The quotes found in the exhibit are pieces of different interviews.

“As a student of color, I am interested in learning about my history. I started to pick up bits and pieces of the history of African Americans at Lafayette through my meetings with different professors and administrators, as well as through my parents [George Weaver ’72 and Sylvia Daniels Weaver ’75], who both attended Lafayette,” she says. “From picking up the pieces of history, I wanted to learn more and have a whole picture of what the African American experience has been like at Lafayette throughout Lafayette’s history.”

Weaver worked with Diane Shaw, special collections librarian and College archivist, who guided the art major through African American history at Lafayette.

“My research with Diane was an independent study, and this project is something additional that came from working with Mike Benitez, director of Intercultural Development,” says Weaver. “An opportunity came up to have an exhibit at the Portlock Black Cultural Center, and I quickly jumped at the chance to share the information that I had gathered from my independent study with other people and students.

“Working with Diane Shaw was amazing. She helped me to get even closer to the project by visiting places and handling precious objects associated with the history. The Lafayette College archives itself is just an amazing place to discover things.”

Weaver believes Lafayette provides a positive and academically challenging environment for student research.

“I feel the opportunities to do research and to explore an idea are there, but they aren’t just going to be handed to you. You have to go out and reach out to a professor or administrator and let them know what you’re interested in,” she says. “The College has so much information in the archives and the professors are very knowledgeable, and for the most part the information goes untouched and underutilized. It’s important that students begin to reveal this somewhat hidden information. Doing the research really changed my perspective of the College and of my own experience.”

Weaver believes students should see the exhibit or visit the archives to discover something about Lafayette for themselves.

“I think a lot of students have this idea about what Lafayette is about, but if they look at the history of Lafayette, more particularly the history of African Americans here, they will see Lafayette in a different light, a more positive one,” she says.

After graduation, Weaver would like to pursue a career in graphic design. She wants her project to inspire future students’ work.

“My future hope for this project is that someone younger takes the opportunity to take it a step further in some way, either through another artistic expression, or through a movement to bring back ‘Rapped in Black,’” says Weaver. “I would love for this history to continue to be investigated, rather than reburied.”

Weaver has also found support in Curlee Raven Holton, professor and head of art and founding director of the Experimental Printmaking Institute. They collaborated through the EXCEL Scholars program on the technique of monoprinting, made popular by famous pop artist Andy Warhol. Weaver also designed a guidebook for honors thesis students and made art for the Office of Career Services, where her work was displayed before becoming part of Lafayette’s permanent collection.

She also helped design exhibit posters for the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, N.J. through the course Solving Communication Problems taught by Lew Minter, director of the media lab at the Williams Visual Arts Building.

Weaver is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.

Independent study projects are among several major programs that have made Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. The College sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year; 21 students were accepted to present their research at this year’s conference.

Categorized in: Academic News