From the Nominator
When Todd Moye and Andrew Torget, professors in UNT’s Department of History, launched their public history research seminar in spring 2018, they had no idea that it would lead to not only 49 individual biographies and more than 650 artifacts about St. John’s—a disappeared freedmen’s community near Pilot Point, Texas—but also inspire one of their graduate students, Micah Crittenden, to use her research expertise to help save what was once a one-room African American schoolhouse known as the Lincoln Academy in the disappeared freedmen’s community of Oakdale. The school—which was moved to Pilot Point in the 1940s and converted to a residence—was in danger of being condemned by the Pilot Point City Council, but Crittenden’s dogged determination led to the discovery of documents that proved its historical pedigree, and inspired the community to ensure its preservation. Through both the St. John’s project and the Lincoln Academy research, Crittenden and her classmates uncovered a history of racial violence and intimidation in Denton County that had long been ignored—in the process, bringing researchers, activists and community members together to shed light on the untold truth about what really happened to local freedmen’s communities and their residents in the early to mid-20th century.
From the Judges
This article took us on a surprising journey that demonstrated this program’s commitment to a timely and important topic–a history of racial violence and intimidation in Denton County that had long been ignored. The narrative was immersive, challenging, and made us want to learn more. We liked that student work was a focus, and that their work engendered a high level of community engagement.