Every two years, Groundswell hosts an (inter)national gathering of oral historians, activists, storytellers, artists, academics, documentarians, organizers and other practitioners who work at the intersections of oral history and social justice. Groundswell 2015 was an official Network Gathering at the 2015 Allied Media Conference (AMC).

Groundswell 2015:
Oral History for Movement Building

June 17th - 18th
Detroit, MI

At the Groundswell 2015: Oral History for Movement Building gathering, we explored how the process and products of oral history can mobilize, connect, educate, and inspire in our movements for justice. 

This two day convening, organized as an official Network Gathering at the Allied Media Conference, brought together nearly 100 practitioners from diverse communities to share our experiences using oral history in a movement-building context. Through workshops and small group breakout sessions, we explored the ethical, technical, and practical concerns inherent to our work and considered what it means to apply an explicit anti-oppression framework to doing oral history work. Detroit youth and children inspired us with their social justice oral history projects, while activists using oral history in movements against police brutality in communities of color challenged us to push the boundaries of what oral history is and can accomplish in our struggles for justice.

Check out our Groundswell 2015: Oral History for Movement Building program book!  

Special thanks to all of our GS2015 Sponsors:



Call for Participants

Groundswell is a growing network of oral historians, storytellers, activists, organizers, artists, documentarians and media-makers that use the process and products of oral history and narrative to support organizing for social justice. Our mission is to provide mutual support, training, and resources in the practice of applied, community-based oral history in order to build the creativity and power of social justice movements.

For this open Network Gathering, we invite people already working at the intersections of oral history and movement building, as well as oral historians who want to use their skills to support social justice work, and community organizers interested in incorporating oral history as a strategy to support their campaigns and communities. We especially encourage the participation of people:

  • rooted and working in communities of color, low-income communities, immigrants, youth, elders, queer folk, people with disabilities
  • engaged in documentation and storytelling centered on organizing against state sanctioned (e.g. police) violence in Black and Brown communities across the country
  • doing oral history and storytelling work in Detroit.

Together, through story-sharing, mini-workshops, skill shares, and breakout sessions, participants will develop and come away with:

  • COMMUNITY: excitement and encouragement in sharing our stories and work; new relationships and potential collaborations with other oral historians/community workers; ways to deepen these connections beyond AMC through the ongoing Groundswell network.
  • PURPOSE: a sense of how oral history can support social justice and movement building - and a set of principles to undergird this work.
  • STRATEGIES: tips, skill sets and resources for doing oral history with an explicit anti-oppression lens; a plan for how the growing Groundswell network can best support radical, community-based oral history work in 2015-2016.

    Past Groundswell Gatherings

    GS2013 - New York

    GS2011 - New York