Having completed recent critical and creative scholarship related to antebellum writers, autism, and the neuroscience of the imagination, this project initiates a new direction. Focusing on the Civil Rights Period (1950s to the early 1970s), it will involve the conducting and archiving of oral histories. To build this archive, I will develop partnerships with the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society and archivists at the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library. The foundation for this change in scholarly and service commitments is the belief that a thriving community and civil discourse includes both shared and sometimes conflicting histories and stories. Moreover, it is rooted in the idea that the capacity to build connections among diverse community members depends upon keeping past narratives alive in the present. This New Directions Initiative grant, then, will enable me to receive training in this new area of oral history research, support my ability to conduct interviews, and thus provide the time and resources for the building of an oral history archive in Kalamazoo.