The Picture the Homeless Oral History Project

Lynn Lewis

By inviting engagement with its narrators and archival materials, the Picture the Homeless Oral History Project asks visitors to move beyond empathy and the framework of charity to understand that homelessness is a social justice question.

 

This installation was a part of HEAR & NOW: An Interactive Oral History Exhibitshowcasing multimedia projects and stories recorded by the 2017 cohort of Columbia University’s Oral History MA program.

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Imagine that the homeless person sleeping at the end of the subway car, picking up cans, or panhandling on your corner is a leader in the struggle for social justice. How do you picture the homeless? Come and hear from homeless New Yorkers who have given years of their lives, through some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable, to make NYC a better place for all of us. You will never see homeless people or homelessness the same way again.

Lynn Lewis worked at Picture the Homeless (PTH) for 17 years, from its inception to establishment as a local and national leader in the struggle for housing justice and right to public space. She is excited about oral history’s potential as a tool to collaboratively document and support the leadership of poor people in social justice movements in the U.S. and internationally, and has been exploring the relationship between power, leadership, and individual and collective resistance during her OHMA year.