[ skip to content ]

More Information about this image

You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Mapping Lambert's Point Project Seeks to Tell a Century of Stories

By Brendan O'Hallarn

The mission of Old Dominion University's Institute for the Humanities is to promote a culture of community engagement and service.

Director Avi Santo, associate professor of communication, has strived to give voice to previously unheard members of the community. That was part of the motivation for last year's "Birth of an Answer" project, a 100-years-later response to the release of the racist film "Birth of a Nation."

In September, the Institute will extend its reach, launching Mapping Lambert's Point, an interactive website that tells the multi-layered story of the historic Norfolk neighborhood that borders the University.

"Our desire is to illuminate the meaningful encounters and lived experiences that have helped folks who have grown up there, once called the neighborhood home or continue to live there form a sense of place," Santo said.

The project will be unveiled on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Lambert's Point Community Center, during an event from 5 - 6:15 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The goal of Mapping Lambert's Point is to collect stories from current and former residents of the neighborhood about meaningful places, including homes, schools and places of worship. "No story is too small. All stories shine a light on a community's history, its struggles as well as its efforts to overcome those struggles, its normalcy or ordinariness in the face of extraordinary challenges," Santo said.

At the event, the Mapping Lambert's Point website will be launched. It features stories stretching back to the first half of the 20th century. Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick, who has championed diversity and inclusiveness, will deliver remarks. A poster exhibit will showcase highlights from the website. Michael Hucles, associate professor of history at Old Dominion and a historian of African Americans in Hampton Roads, will also speak at the event.

Lambert's Point has changed significantly over the past century. Santo said many young people living in the neighborhood today, including Old Dominion students, are unfamiliar with the neighborhood's history or the past efforts of its residents to forge connections, strengthen bonds and build community.

"It is our hope that the Mapping Lambert's Point project allows stories of the neighborhood to live on, even as particular places change or vanish," Santo said. "It is also our hope that Mapping Lambert's Point gives voice to the people who have lived - and, in many instances, continue to live - in the neighborhood and through their daily actions and interactions have striven to sustain and support the community."

The institute envisions Mapping Lambert's Point as an ongoing project, as other current or former residents of the neighborhood add their stories, perhaps inspired by something they see on the website.

The interactive map will allow visitors to the site, as well as the neighborhood, to follow themed journeys outlining the community's residential, social, spiritual, commercial and civic life in different eras.

"One of the project's primary objectives is to give Lambert's Point the opportunity to tell its own story and, in so doing, expand understandings of the community's cultural history," Santo said.

The initial phase of Mapping Lambert's Point was funded by a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and by a gift from the Norfolk Southern Foundation. Santo said the project also received support from Brenda Andrews, editor and publisher of the historic African-American newspaper the New Journal & Guide.

This year, the Institute for the Humanities was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award from the Urban League of Hampton Roads and a Distinguished Merit citation from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities for "Birth of an Answer."

Site Navigation

Experience Guaranteed

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Academic Days

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

Upcoming Events

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events.