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#FerrisSocial Conversation: Franklin Hughes

Ferris State University

Franklin Hughes, videographer and multimedia specialist for the Diversity and Inclusion Office, talks with the News Services and Social Media Office for a conversation about his duties at Ferris. Below, Hughes is shown in the background shooting video during a tour of the Jim Crow Museum.

Videographer and Multimedia Specialist Franklin Hughes is in his fifth year producing graphic art, video materials and website content for the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, as well as Ferris State University’s Diversity and Inclusion Office. Hughes has background in video production for commercial television, and is actively involved in research and the procurement of audio materials for the Jim Crow Museum.

Hughes recently spoke with the News Services and Social Media Office about his varied media production duties for Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the Museum.

News Services: Are we catching you at an active time for the areas where you work, with guests and groups visiting the Jim Crow Museum during Black History Month, or through active program schedules for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion?

Franklin Hughes: It’s not any busier for me, at this time, as we are busy throughout the school year. The Museum has a docent, Diane Cleland, and Lisa Kemmis is Museum assistant, beyond founder and curator David Pilgrim and myself. Diane and Lisa are there to see the groups that come through, and visitation is steady throughout the year. Part of my duties include generating social media content, whether that would be graphics for an upcoming event or written content. It’s important that we are actively posting to inform and encourage our audiences so they are informed and supporting activities of the Diversity and Inclusion Office, and the Museum.

NS: Who are seen as the key audiences for the Diversity and Inclusion Office and the Jim Crow Museum and how do you go about engaging and encouraging those groups?

Ferris State UniversityHughes: Ferris students are our primary audience, and we’re working now to engage the various colleges on campus. We’ve recently had Graphic Design students into the Museum, to see how design elements impacted various artifacts and display items. We get History classes as well, and our Museum staff accommodate those folks. We are always happy to welcome Kent State University’s Pan-American Studies classes twice each year. There are also regular visits from Second Baptist Church in Detroit. The church was part of the Underground Railroad. The Museum has items of American history that are valuable for all groups to see. High school instructors are interested in bringing their students, it is often a matter of having the funds to travel here, and take in the Museum.

NS: How much of your work involves outreach, or engaging groups outside the Ferris community? Does that apply to both the Museum and the Diversity and Inclusion Office?

Hughes: I do some of the social media for the Museum. We find that a lot of outreach really isn’t needed based on the campus’ awareness and acceptance of the Museum.

CBS Radio and Slate are among the media who have contacted us about Aunt Jemima, and literacy tests, respectively, because of the variety of materials and artifacts in our archives. Now that Dr. Pilgrim’s book, “Understanding Jim Crow,” has come out, the level of attention has increased.

Much of my work is backend, or behind the scenes, maintaining our websites. I have also been compiling old radio broadcasts like “Amos and Andy,” “Molasses and January,” “Pick and Pat,” “The Aunt Jemima Variety Show,” “Uncle Remus’ Children’s Stories,” and “Jam Up and Honey,” who were two black-faced minstrels. I have been talking to the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, as we go through old databases for “The Gold Dust Twins,” an early example of these types of programs.

NS: Are there shared responsibilities in keeping an eye on what’s taking place in the media that would be of interest to the Diversity and Inclusion Office, the Jim Crow Museum or perhaps both? Checking your Facebook accounts, there are some shared or similar posts.

Hughes: One of the cool things for people working at the Museum is that we all have the ability to post, and we don’t all hold the same opinion. We put our initials on our posts, to let people know that while we agree on some things, there are others that we do not. That can lead to fruitful considerations and discussion.

NS: The University has just entered into a five-year Diversity and Inclusion Plan. That must be a significant focus for your office, and your duties in particular.

Hughes: There are some added responsibilities that have developed as a result of the plan. I have a dual role, serving the Museum and the Diversity and Inclusion Office, which includes various new projects. We have just started an initiative to address food insecurity and homelessness among students. I believe that will be an important message to keep before the Ferris community, whether it calls for making graphics, or keeping social media posts current to inform and encourage our audience, so they are informed and supporting our activity.

One of the groups on campus that the Diversity and Inclusion Office is collaborating with is Strategic Planning for Diverse Enrollment, an Admissions Office initiative. We’re trying to be involved in community events in Grand Rapids, hoping to encourage a diverse population and make them aware that we are interested in them. We hope that Ferris will be an option to consider as they pursue their careers. We think those individuals will be impressed with the Office of Multicultural Student Services, and the Center for Latin@ Studies. Those are examples, along with the work of our office that we hope they would find being important.

NS: It sounds like you have plenty of considerations and responsibilities in your job!

Hughes: It’s never dull around our office, as Dr. Pilgrim is actively pursuing the goals of the Diversity and Inclusion Office, the Museum, and the University.

This Ferris Social question-and-answer interview was compiled by John Smith, News Services and Social Media communications specialist. The mission of Ferris Social is to hear from members of the University community about the work that they do to contribute to Ferris' core values, mission and outreach.

Last updated: 02-17-2016