Participate in the “Moment of Voice” Blog Series

What is the story behind who you are?
We invite you to participate in our Moment of Voice blog series

This blog is part of The Corps Network’s Moving Forward Initiative

Our Ask

We invite Corpsmembers and Corps staff to share a personal story behind who you are. We encourage you to be open and think broadly, but here are a few story ideas to consider (you are by no means limited to this list):

  • Reflect on a defining experience from your past. What happened? How did you react in the moment? How do you feel about this experience when you look back from the present?
  • Share a family history story. Who are your people and how did your family get to where you/they are today?
    • Share a story about a parent, grandparent, or another relative or ancestor. How do their stories, their actions, and the events of the past shape who you are today?

To Consider

  • There is no word limit if you choose to share your story in writing.
  • If you prefer to share your story orally, please contact us. We’d love to arrange a time to speak with you to help capture your narrative.
    • Also, instead of writing, or to compliment a written narrative, you may choose to make your own video or audio recording of your story.
  • Please consider sharing family photos or other content to add depth to your story.

For questions, or to submit a narrative, please contact Capri St. Vil and Hannah Traverse.

We hope to collect stories from September 1 – November 1.

A message from Capri St. Vil, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

This blog is part of The Corps Network’s Moving Forward Initiative


My son recently posed a question to me: “What is the narrative behind who you are?”

I know there is power in expressive writing. It has been shown that narratives can help the writer to heal and the audience to understand. Every culture has its own stories and storytellers. In West Africa, there is the “griot”: a person who serves as a historian and repository of oral tradition. Embracing the power of storytelling not only helps us preserve memory, but also helps educate the next generation while honoring those who experienced the past.

In acknowledgement of the 400th anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, The Corps Network looks to have a “Moment of Voice” instead of a moment of silence. We believe that by sharing our personal stories and listening to the experiences of others, we can come to better understand each other, understand ourselves, and to heal.

I am asking all Corpsmembers and Corps staff to talk to their families, their elders, their community and to share their stories, so that all of us can better understand the stories of our African/Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Latino/Hispanic communities. We want to hear your stories of resistance and progress as we all look to collectively heal.  Reach out to me and Hannah since this can be done orally, visually, and through a blog. There are so many stories in our communities that are not told; through our series, a “Moment of Voice,” we want to provide a space where these voices can be heard.

I encourage you to participate by not only sharing stories that can be published, but to also participate by sharing stories among yourselves. Each one of us, through the power of narrative, can be both the teacher and the learner. Our world is changing. Many stories are lost. The narratives we hope to compile, which will reflect the combined realities of many, can help us understand the present by shining a light on the realities of the past.

Our first blog in the “Moment of Voice” series will present our COO, Marie Walker. A few weeks ago, Marie told our staff a story about recently seeing a young black family on the beach in Mississippi; behind them was an exhibit on the “Bloody Wade-Ins” that brought equal rights to Mississippi’s beaches in the 1960s. She shared with us her past experience, which I would like to share with all of you. Marie and I are similar in age, but my reality is so different from hers. However, our realities are still tied together by the collective realities of so many.

How can we know the life of everyone? We can’t, but we can see and learn through this exploration, which we hope will encourage further exploration and learning. I have to share this statement made by Bryan Stevenson in discussing his work to raise awareness about people – including many whose names are lost to history – who have been affected by racist imbalances in our justice system:

For me it is about truth telling in a way that is designed to get us to remember, and not just remember for memory’s sake, but get us to remember so that we can recover…I don’t think that we can get free until we’re willing to tell the truth about our history. I do believe in truth and reconciliation, I just think that truth and reconciliation is sequential. You can’t have the reconciliation without the truth. Truth can set you free.

Over the past few weeks, The Corps Network watched Bryan Stevenson’s new documentary, “True Justice.”  HBO initially set a date when streaming of this documentary would not be available, but it seems that this has been extended. I encourage you to watch it.

Also, please be aware of the Commemoration of the 1st African Landing that will take place at Fort Monroe, VA from August 23 – 25. I believe certain parts of this event will be live-streamed. On August 25, NPS will host a bell ringing ceremony at Fort Monroe; they encourage partners to join a nationwide bell ringing at 3:00 p.m. ET on this date. We encourage Corps to get involved. Please let us know if you plan to participate by contacting Hannah Traverse. You can learn about how to get involved and the significance of this act on the NPS website.

August 23 also marks the International Day of the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, and, at the Historic Sottherley in  Maryland, they are “honoring the memories of those that perished and survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade” as they also look to “remember the abolition of the trade and celebrate the contributions of survivors whose strength built nations.”

I encourage you to see if you can learn about events in your area. And please share information about the commemoration at Fort Monroe with others. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and contributions to our “Moment of Voice” series.

– Capri


Banner Photo Credit, 3 images on right:

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF34-9058-C]

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-123456]