Grantee Partner Spotlight: Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond
Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond, Executive Director, The Community Archive
By Mark Hallett, Director of Grants Programs
Read Time 5 minutes
June 15, 2023
Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond is a published poet, community arts organizer, and entrepreneur. Her passion for storytelling and oral histories led to the creation of The Community Archive, which received an Illinois Humanities Action Grant to record the histories of the descendants of the East St. Louis race riots of 1917 to be released as a podcast. Dr. Redmond began in the music industry and was signed by M.C. Hammer’s record label before returning to school for advanced degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing. She founded The Community Archive in 2022.
Learn more about Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond and her work in this Q&A.
A Q&A with Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond
Q: How do you see the arts, culture, and the humanities as being essential?
Dr. Shields Redmond: It’s so hard for me to tease culture out from everything that we do. In truth, the way we cook, the way we grieve our dead, the way we parent our children, and everything in our lives is “cultural.” And when culture is elevated to the stature of art, we see the best of those examples I mentioned and more.
Without cultural arts, i.e. humanities, it would be as if the world was in grey tones, or as if all our food had no flavor. I don’t see how we are able to experience the real joy of living without arts and culture.
Q: What is the most important thing that people should know about your work?
Dr. Shields Redmond: We will use portable recorders and online audio recordings to train community members to interview descendants of survivors of the 1917 East St. Louis Riots and edit the stories for a community podcast. East St. Louis is the site of a race massacre that occurred in 1917. Known popularly as the “1917 East St. Louis Race Riot,” the event spanned three days and resulted in between 100-300 deaths. The result of our story collection will be a podcast (Class Of 1917) that is accessible to the community as well as a culminating in-person listening party.
Q: How did you arrive at doing what you do?
Dr. Shields Redmond: As a dual citizen of Meridian, Mississippi and East St. Louis, Illinois, I have been raised in the tradition of African-American storytelling. The stories of the elders have always intrigued me. My interest in oral history dovetailed in 2019 when I partnered on a podcast, called “Who Raised You?” with my good friend Jia Lian Yang. ”Who Raised You?” was awarded the 2019 A-list spot for a local podcast by St. Louis Magazine.
This gave me the idea to create a podcast with my 85-year-old father called “The Memoir My Dad Wouldn’t Write.” As I produced the episodes and received so much positive feedback, I realized that the podcast platform is a perfect way to collect oral history. From these experiences, The Community Archive nonprofit was birthed.
Q: Who makes your work possible?
Dr. Shields Redmond: The Community Archive’s mission is to serve as a platform for arts education and a repository for collected creative wisdom. The word “collected” indicates that the community itself is our most integral partner. Without the elders sharing their stories and other community members collecting the stories, this work would not be able to go forward. We look forward to creating a sustainable collection that preserves knowledge for generations to come.
Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond's Suggested Readings
After investigating the “1917 East St. Louis Riot” for The Crisis, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote the essay “Of Work and Wealth.” ‘Of Work and Wealth,’ Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil, 1920 is an excerpt compiled by the National Humanities Center.
About the Class of 1917 Project
Class of 1917 is a project consisting of interviews with descendants of the East St. Louis race riots of 1917, in which as many as 300 people died. The resulting project will be presented as a podcast. An interactive historic tour of the 1917 East Saint Louis race riot is available through Feminine Pronoun Consultants, LLC.
The Class of 1917 project will be produced under The Community Archive, a non-profit founded by Treasure Shields Redmond. Founded in 2022, The Community Archive serves as a platform for arts education and a repository for collected creative wisdom.
In addition to this project, The Community Archive will produce other podcasts featuring the community voices of East St. Louis residents.
About Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond
Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond is a published poet, community arts organizer, and entrepreneur. She began in the music industry and was signed by M.C. Hammer’s record label before returning to school for advanced degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing.
In 2016, she founded How To Find Scholarships, with the aim of helping college-bound teens attend top-tier schools without incurring massive debt. Dr. Shields Redmond is the founder and proprietor of Feminine Pronoun Consultants, LLC, a home for all the services she provides. She founded The Community Archive in 2022. LEARN MORE
About the Grantee Partner Spotlight Series
Illinois Humanities highlights the work of our Grants partners through our monthly Grantee Partner Spotlight. It shines a light on our grantee partners' work and allows readers to get to know them better through a Q&A with members of the organization.