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Demonstrators raised their fists on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during a protest for George Floyd on May 30, 2020. Credit: Chase Sutton

Black Ivy Stories, a viral Instagram page that recounts experiences of Black individuals in the Ivy League, is launching a time capsule project to archive content created within the past year.

The Black Ivy Time Capsule is a competition that accepts creative work focused on Black life at the eight Ivy League schools. Submissions must have been created between June 2020 and June 2021, and those that are approved will be published in four newsletters released weekly next month. The competition is funded by a $1,500 grant from Belonging at Yale, an initiative that supports projects focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

The time capsule is accepting submissions until June 18, and will publish its first newsletter on June 4.

Competition winners will receive monetary awards for their submissions, which will be featured on the Instagram page and can range in content from articles and editorials to artwork, videos, and music. Winners will be selected based on how much engagement their submission receives on Instagram, according to the submission rules.

The co-creator of Black Ivy Stories, who requested anonymity to protect the identity of the Instagram account, said the goal of the Black Ivy Time Capsule is to carry the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement beyond last summer by compiling evidence to provide recommendations to Ivy League schools on how to create an equitable experience for Black communities.

Eve Washington, a rising senior at Columbia University who is partnering with Black Ivy Stories and curating content for the time capsule, said she is excited by the page's ability to hold administrators at universities accountable, and create a space for perspectives that otherwise doesn't exist on many Ivy League campuses.

Washington also said that the time capsule creates a space for Black students to connect with each other across the Ivy League and support each other by sharing resources and ideas.

In order to receive funding from Yale University, the team behind Black Ivy Stories submitted a 14-page proposal that outlined the time capsule project. The team also applied for funding from Penn's Campaign for Community, a grant fund for initiatives focused on racial justice, but has yet to receive a response, the co-creator said.

During the competition, Black Ivy Stories will continue to accept and publish written submissions from students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni about their experience as a Black person within the Ivy League.

Black Ivy Stories currently has published over 350 posts since the page was launched last June that document anti-Blackness experienced at Ivy League schools. Among the posts, 60 are written by Penn affiliates, with a particular focus on experiences of racial discrimination by professors and other students.

The co-creator said a long-term goal of the project is to create a network across the Ivy League to report on the experience of Black individuals where content is released on a consistent basis.

"If we just release one time capsule, or a couple of newsletters, that's not going to create change," the co-creator said. "There needs to be consistent advocacy and consistent recommendations."

Ultimately, the co-creator believes the time capsule will be successful if the page receives quality content and is able to distribute money to Black creators, and if it starts a conversation that pressures leaders in Ivy League schools to make positive changes for Black communities.

For Washington, the time capsule is significant because it serves as an opportunity to reflect on the past year which was marked by national protests against police killings and other violence directed at Black individuals.

"Even if nothing comes out of this time capsule, I think we'll be able to say there's a collection of some of the questions and concerns people were having at this chaotic moment in history," Washington said. "So much of the work of storytelling and even creative work in general is archiving the present moment."

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