By Anjali Gahlaut
The Hooks Institute’s “Where Are They Now?” series explores how the institute has shaped the lives and careers of former alumni. The series uncovers valuable experiences, skills, and lessons that former alumni acquired during their time at Hooks.
Dr. Rebekkah Mulholland is a former graduate assistant at the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change. Currently, Mulholland is an Assistant Professor of History at California State University at Sacramento, where Mullholland makes a conscious effort to incorporate Memphis history into their curriculum. Muholland states, “Memphis is a part of our conversation when we should talk about the Civil Rights Movement or any aspect of American history because it’s one of those urban cultural centers that’s often overlooked.”
Mulholland first connected with the Hooks Institute while serving as president of the University of Memphis’ Graduate Association for African American History (GAAAH) in 2015.The student organization was searching for financial supporters for their annual international conference. Mulholland states, “My conversation with the Hooks Institute was really good, and they were really interested in the conference we were putting on that year and they were big supporters. So, from that moment on, every year Hooks would be one of our financial supporters and they would come out and attend our panels.” Mulholland continued working with Hooks exclusively through GAAAH until they were made aware of an opportunity to become a graduate assistant. In deciding whether to apply, Mulholland explains, “it was a no-brainer that I wanted to continue that relationship in a different capacity. In 2019, I became the graduate assistant there where I continued to build our relationship”.
During their time as a graduate assistant, one project Mulholland worked on was Hooks’ “Stories to Inspire Change” series on YouTube. Through this series, Muholland got to write and produce short videos detailing various historical figures whose efforts created a more just society. The format of Hooks’ “Stories to Inspire Change” series serves as a blueprint for Mulholland’s students, whose upcoming project is to make a similar short film on a Civil Rights Movement topic. “I mean, they grew up in the age of social media, so any time they can turn the cameras on themselves and put it up on Tik Tok is amazing…I’m going to send their films to our Sacramento History Museum because they want to build their social media presence.” Emphasizing social media and taking the time to build a platform also provides easy access to family, friends, and other community members. Mulholland emphasizes the importance of bridging the gap between the curriculum and the community—something they learned from their time at Hooks.
“One thing I love about Hooks is that they never say they’re giving a voice to the voiceless. They actually go to the community, or they bring the community to the campus, and they listen to them. That’s so important and I think it’s just a wonderful thing to be a part of. I’m so happy I got that opportunity.” Mulholland continues this in California by continuously working on projects in the community as well as bringing community members to campus and introducing them tot he campus’ community. Mulholland elaborates, “I also make sure that we’re taking our students out to the communities— a lot of which they’ve grown up in. They learn that they grew up around a lot of these stories and that these stories are in their families too. That’s one thing Hooks really taught me and one thing that I’ve taken away and I truly appreciate.”
About the Author
Anjali Claire Gahlaut graduated from White Station High School in Memphis, Tennessee and is now a rising sophomore and prospective History major at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Anjali spent the summer 2022 as an intern at Hooks and joined the team to gain a deeper understanding of Memphis’ history and its impact on marginalized groups.