CHI Fellowship Introduction: David Walton
My name is David M. Walton (aka Kalonji A. Butholenkosi). I am a dual doctoral student in History and AAAS (African American and African Studies) at Michigan State University. I am from Romulus, Michigan. My research interests are: African American history (1860-1993), African history (colonization and decolonization), South African history, Detroit history, Michigan history and slavery and the slave trade (Africa and the Americas).
My mother has been my main source of strength, ambition, and commitment to excellence. Although not a unique experience, she raised my siblings and me as a single parent in a low-income housing tenement, yet she never allowed the use of our situation as an excuse for failure or mediocrity. Without her example, courage and commitment I never would have pursued higher education. Furthermore, my mother emphasized a curiosity in Black History and Africa. Moreover, my mother made it quite clear that community service and engagement were required qualities and endeavors for all members of the community. Thus, as a first generation college-educated African American, the first in my family to pursue a doctoral degree, and my working-class background I believe it is my duty to engage the community.
Inspired by my mother, the goals of my community engagement activities are to extract and identify specific issues the community faces, the community’s ideas to remedy them, discern how I can support the community’s goals and projects, and to capture the voices and perspectives of the members of the community.
After hearing a presentation by Abdul Alkalimat (pioneer Black Historian and Black studies scholar) about digitizing Black Studies I was moved to develop a digital/virtual Black Cultural Heritage Center. As a 2013-2014 Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) Fellow I am presently working on that very project. I envision the virtual Black Cultural Heritage Center to be a research and learning resource for K-12 students and teachers, as well as undergraduate students.
Fusing my childhood, research interests and commitment to community engagement, I am pursuing a career to become a professor of history and/or African studies. Due to my love for learning and wish to continue examining, debating and studying the complex lessons of history, I aspire to publish scholarly research devoted to the fields of African history and the history of the African Diaspora. My desire is to teach, write and lecture about, as well as analyze issues concerning the African and African American experiences. By doing so I am living my dream and honoring my mother’s legacy.