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Shola Lynch, M.A. ’95 – 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award

Shola Lynch, M.A. ’95 – 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award


I’m Shola Lynch. We have to ask ourselves what kind of society do we want? I tell the stories that I want to see. And they involve people who look like me, and who are like me. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country. Although I am a woman and I’m equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people of America. I grew up in New York City My dad was a professor, my mom was a nurse and then a homemaker. My grand plan was to travel the world. My father didn’t think that was such a good plan, so he started sending me applications. And there was this brochure from the University of California, Riverside, for a Public History Resource Management Masters including American History. And this light bulb went off in my head. To bring history alive through the artifacts of history. I packed up all my stuff in my VW bug and drove to California. What I loved about UCR, the campus was really comfortable. The history department was really good, so it’s really the people. My UCR experience would be really different if I hadn’t met Laura Lopez, who was another student, who was actually working at the California Museum of Photography and she brought me over there and showed me the stereograph collection and I just was blown away by that. It ended up being my thesis and I did an exhibition there and that completely took me into the work that I do today. I’m a documentary filmmaker. History is very important to me so the stories that I tell are primarily historical. Shola is smart, very smart. But beyond that, she was very very imaginative. One of the most imaginative graduate students we’ve ever had. And also, fiercely determined. What does it mean to be a criminal in this society? She has been such a lone wolf that she’s decided to take on topics that I think others would have shied away from. Your ability to find some deep and emotional meaning in the things she’s working on, it is really tremendous. I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States of America. The point of my work is to tell those stories so that we reclaim that and acknowledge the diversity that’s part of this great country. I wasn’t surprised when she went on to have this really marvelous career that she’s had. She’s lived up to what I believe she could do, and she’s going to do great things in the future. I think the important thing with whatever you do with your life is that you do it to the best of your ability. Like Angela Davis said, ” It’s the way you live your life”. You’re just working hard at what you hopefully love to do. The rest follows.

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