Oral History Documentaries

Oral History Documentaries are Human Traditions, how man live and what he believes. In essence it transcribes what is in man, his dignity as a human person and his continues search of himself. These human traditions are written in autobiographies or in memories or diaries and journals. Sometimes re-echoed in ideologies (patterns of our beliefs and practices in a human society) by our memories. As Marcovici sited that our remembrance (memory as part of ideology that has a power in relation to what society we reproduce) prevails our deduction of the past over the present.
In the acts of meanings it includes all experiences in a world of meanings, images, social bonds, what man would like to become and what he is afraid to become. It is important that we understand the past so we could act on moral choices about our present. Oral history is also all our personal histories into a larger collective histories. With the abounding technologies found in the internet, oral history finds in a new form in digital story telling. Facts in which have been encoded in the most ordinary and common places. Oral histories bring to our sense of the present of man’s dominion over greed and forces of nature:
Below is what oral histories bring to our sense of our present world in terms of man dominion over greed in the documentaries At the River I Stand. It tells about a dramatic climax of the Civil Rights movement, a local labor dispute that became a national issue and the reason behind the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Memphis in 1968. “I am a man” is more than an ideology it is a fact and a simple but venerable truth. And because I am a man, a rational creature, I cannot be taken as a second class citizen.

The 1,300 African American sanitation exploited workers (works to collect garbage) demands for a full exclusion in American life. AFSCME leadership march a 65 day strike. This excellent film is a 58 minute documentary which will inspire the viewers to free themselves of any racial and economic injustice. Just by observing the profound determination of this ordinary people as formed by a racist society as the lowest caste of human beings (David Appleby) one would be able to understand the simple basic need of man which is respect despite the world of greed.
This oral history also inspired James Cleveland in his unforgettable quotes “one more river to cross before I lay my burden down”. This memory happens in Memphis in the most ordinary places and days. The commonplace called street but coincided with the action that hoped to rebuke the future of economic injustice because of the greediness of few due to prejudices and racism. The person who seems to be frivolous and trivial marked their way to civil rights movement, as they raise their placards with these simple words “I am a man”. A word that is in the past but is still as true as the present and contains the hopes for the future.
As simple as what a jazz musician R. Roland Kirk that every time he plays his saxophone in a concert he always began by saying that this is not just a sideshow (it is more than that). His music should penetrate into his white American audience and in his tune deliberately re-echoes the inequality of men due to racial discrimination, an injustice and inequities that still plaques our society. (Basso) History in American Age of Popular Culture makes us understand the past so we could ponder the moral issues about the or rather our choices in the present.
It is one way of collecting our personal histories into a larger collective history. History takes place in a certain location because a place is the first of all existence. One cannot exist without a place. However there are places that stink with stinginess and greed. Wisdom in places is a common place but it is where history takes a place in the realm of this world. According to the autobiography of Delfina Cuero an Indian who had lived in Mission Viejo since her childhood years that Indians had to move from place to place to hunt or when the white men comes.
In her narrative with the places and plants and things that they ate probed the authenticity of her claim that they were the first settlers in San Diego, California. Though the mountains were cut and the old trees where they built their houses with “tamu” a kind of reed, she could still recall the places and events that had taken place. Her vivid memory made it easy for the author Florence Connoly Shipek to write her life story. In the introduction the author made in known that the work is to research for the Mission Indian Claims. However, none in the reservation villages can be found a single surviving coastal Indians.
The threefold division of the first settlers makes it difficult to locate search. Upon hearing Delfina’s story it was discovered that in 1900 to 1910 Dieggueños (Spanish term for Kumeya’y people) Indians (means those who are attached to the San Diego Mission) had lived in Mission Valley and in various places around San Diego wherein it is now called 13th and 17th around K Street. The anthropological study is to find out the authenticity of the life of Delfina of which the later was able to prove without hesitation and malice. As the story goes we learned that they are poor, most of the time hungry but cheerful catholic people.
Despite of the lack of written record the study paved its way through the way the Indians lived during those years. The narrative life of Delfina shows the destruction of Indian self sufficiency on the land, the lost of the Indian society, culture and religion. It also narrates the very slow pace of integration of this people into the modern society (Shipek). Delfina’s story will always be looked upon. The success of the work promises a good life for the Digueños children or next the generation of these Indians to come. Oral histories bring to our sense of the present of man’s dominion over forces of nature:
A documentary film by Spike Lee an African American director – When the Levees Broke: A requiem in Four Acts: Is a heart-rending story of those who survived the devastating ordeal of the destruction of New Orleans. The film also looks at a city that has triumphed over its ordeal because of the resilience of its community, surviving death and amidst the ruins they find strength. A sign of the New Orleaneans rich cultural legacy. The spirit of new Orleaneans says Lee is indomitable – these people are accustomed to hardships, they are fighting for their lives. Again man was put to test: Man as always have dominion over the forces of nature.
They will never disappear in this planet. Oral history from different interview cleared out that the reason why the city is 80 percent underwater is not because of the hurricane Katrina but it was the breach on the embankment of the river. Lee also mentioned the U. S. government sluggish response to the problem of the poor African American citizen. His identity again in his sense of place re-echoed inequality among men. His resilience was deeply rooted on earth and in his consciousness that it is his instinct to survive no matter what. Man therefore is still the master of the created world.
Lee incorporates in his film a musical culture that is only driven by pure passion and honesty. Their identity has persisted. Their voices and songs are strong and firm. The heart of the marvelous film is centered on the president of the most powerful country indifference and oversight in relation to the destruction of New Orleans compared to catastrophic war in other countries. It explored the real attitude of the rich towards the poor of the world and the depth of its neglect. The film shows the damning picture of Bush’s America in relation to a state in calamity which is only skin deep concern.
An act which shows indifference not to the race but to the socio economic state of a person. The film also portrays the lost culture of its people. The title of the film connotes the fact that it is not the hurricane that devastated New Orleans: a When the Levees Broke documentary re-affirms the cause of the catastrophe that happens to this American Africans, poor of the most powerful country of the world. It is not the hurricane that destroys New Orleans, But, the real cause was the breach of the embankment of the river.
The most difficult part of the film making is asking people questions about the incidence because these are the same people who have lost a home or a love one. However, it is Lee’s job or duty to ask those difficult questions. A question that stirs up feelings and make people break down (Lee). Although the intention is to have people talk about how it can make changes in their own perspective about life. The outrage for the 45 million African-Americans of these Euopean journalists jumps on Lee as if he was the spokesperson of this neglected community which is being treated by the almighty U.
S. A. as a third world country. It was the time that the film director of this story decided to do it. Never did the federal government neglected its own citizen who needed help. Lee even criticized when a horrific earthquake hits Indonesia, and in two days the US government was there. Asking the question did you see the distance between Indonesia and the New Orleans? Only one fourth of the population is there. The New Orleans black citizens were dispersed in other 46 states, they wish to come home and work but there got to be no place for them.
These poor Americans loose their home to a seemingly a natural disaster. It is hoped that the oral history documentary will remind the U. S. that New Orleaneans is not over with the plight. They in fact need help. The film will also determine the pros and cons over what happened to New Orleans as a definitive moment to the history of America. It is hoped that the film will be and elegy for the lost culture of the inhabitants of New Orleans real state in relation to the calamity and may give an impressive importance of our new century (Fraser and ). A life story is an oral unit of social interaction (Linde).
These are coming from interviews and can be written as autobiographies. A biography ends till the end of someone else life. A biographer looks for younger self and an ideological conversion after the passage of many years. He accounts for the difference of the subject and the writer and claim he have the whole stories. It also tells the importance of the subject. The 9/11 attacks on the WTO and Pentagon cancelled all major networks to provide continuous coverage of the event (Caughy). However, the news agenda was only on the subject that is asked to be focused.
We are today in the digital knowledge, a capability of sending digitally coded information. Intranets were linked to cheap regulated public telephones that kept labor rates low. Net users acted to break down barriers which made it possible for the massive sharing of files like the World Wide Web. Community based nets provide access to the public to which many international and non-governments institutions links their networks. Digital Story telling has truly taken its ground in the Internet. Cyberactivism changes the course of history in a way it disseminate knowledge and stories.
Conclusion and reflection of consequences of Digital Story Telling to Oral History Documentaries: Story telling is a very intimate gesture of intimacy, one listens and the other gives confidence to the recipient. Oral histories based on traditional documentaries are facts based on the actual experiences of man. The consequence of digital story telling to oral history is the easy access and immediate control of the written facts of the documents. If not properly controlled could lead readers and listeners into error. The sense of documentaries in our life is to use this knowledge as a tool in order to know where we lead.
Past experiences is needed in order to open the gates of tomorrow and make the present a life worth living. Man’s constancy to change needs a journal of his life in order not to get lost. Loosing a culture is loosing oneself. The rich experience of human history is the sublime reality of his existence. Though oral history documentary is sown with facts, digital story telling though there is a relative cyber activism may lead truth to some manipulations which may cloud the truths and could give information which is only beneficial to a few.
Man’s history always underlines who are the strong and the weak. Though both are man, the least becomes a lesser being in terms of his presence in a civil society. It is the mighty that continuous to flourish. In this world of indifference history reflects the downfall of the greedy as if someone, stronger than nature dictates the course of history for the whole humankind. In some way, our life story though we may have choices is or was predestined.

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New York University

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