We’re honored to share the news that Jessica Cottle, our Justice, Equality, and Community Archivist, is a recipient of this year’s Spencer-Weinstein Prize for Community and Justice. The award, established by Carole and Marcus Weinstein and honoring the late President Emeritus Sam Spencer and his wife, Ava, recognizes students, faculty and staff working to foster dialogue across differences and build bridges for a more just community.
Sara Swanson, Assistant Director of Archives and Special Collections, shares: “As the Justice, Equality, and Community Archivist, Jessica Cottle collects and makes accessible materials about Davidson’s troubled history with race relations, providing opportunities for direct engagement with primary sources as well as the context to understand them. Her work enables students, faculty, and staff to grapple with issues of justice and injustice in tangible ways – including through the collection of oral histories and the digitization of key archival documents – which often lead to difficult, but important, conversations. Many of the projects done by Davidson’s Commission on Race and Slavery and Stories Yet to be Told grant rely on Jessica’s extensive knowledge of Davidson’s relationship to enslavement, segregation, and civil rights; her Archival Resources: Commission on Race and Slavery research guide has been a key resource for both committee and project work.”
Jessica’s efforts also extend to the local community: for example, when the Lingle Hut of Reeves Temple AME Zion Church, a long popular community space in town, was in dire need of repairs, Jessica stepped in to assist with efforts to preserve the historic landmark, including hosting a panel on its history for college and community members. As one faculty member said of Jessica, “In a moment in which Southern history has never been more publicly used and misused in the searing public conversation around Confederate monuments and colleges’ and universities’ history with enslavement, it is not an exaggeration to say that [Jessica] responds to historic and current inequalities with robust engagement and pedagogical possibility.”