PROJECT: Machine Learning Jim Crow

On the Books: Jim Crow and Algorithms of Resistance, a digital project from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, uses collections as data and machine learning approaches to discover Jim Crow and racially-based legislation signed into law in North Carolina between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement. The project is in honor of Dr. Pauli Murray, a lawyer, Episcopal priest, and human rights activist who was also theĀ co-founder for the National Organization for Women and author ofĀ Statesā€™ Laws on Race and Color (1951), a groundbreaking work for the civil rights movement.

From the project description:

On the Books: Jim Crow and Algorithms of ResistanceĀ uses text mining and machine learning to identify racist language in legal documents, helping expose the wide-ranging effects of Jim/Jane Crow on the American South. We have coined the phrase ā€œalgorithms of resistanceā€ in reference to Safiya Nobleā€™sĀ Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce RacismĀ (2018). If algorithms can reinforce racism, could we also use algorithms to fight racism? Instead of proliferating racist ideas, can algorithms help us better study the history of race and advocate for justice?

Project outputs include two publicly accessible, plain-text corpora, a git repository, a short white paper, the website linked above, and presentations to local and national audiences. An Association of Southeast Research LibrASERL webinar about the project can be viewed at this link.

dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Alasdair Ekpenyong, Kristen Totleben, Camille Cooper, Isaac Williams, Kate Lu Sedor, Lina Marie Harper, and Michelle Speed (Editors-at-large for the week), Ian Goodale (Editor for the week), and Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara, Linsey Ford, Caitlin Christian-Lamb, and Pamella Lach (dh+lib Review Editors).