Protests 2020

Special Collections and University Archives invite Black individuals at ISU and throughout Iowa to share their feelings, experiences, and ideas for moving forward following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor (and many more before them). In the future, scholars will look back on this time to learn about individuals’ and communities’ responses to these tragic events, the protests that ensued, and how the nation responded. Too often, Black stories have been ignored or left out of history. This project seeks to change that. We seek not just to preserve these stories, but to amplify them, and to inspire change.

We acknowledge the fact that Black individuals are targeted by law enforcement and subject to recrimination. Hence, the very act of sharing your story is a difficult decision. As a result, we will allow anonymous submissions and have provided instructions for removing identifying information from materials for those who do not wish to reveal their role or the role of others in protests. Our mission is preserving primary sources for future historians and researchers, not exploitation by law enforcement. To that end, we will follow archival community best practices and ethical guidelines established by DocNow and the Society of American Archivists for archiving these types of materials.

All questions can be directed to   

How to participate  

  1. Record your experiences 

  • Create a series of audio/video recordings documenting your experiences, thoughts, and feelings during this time

  • Write an essay or testimony

  • Take photos or write a photo essay (include captions!) 

  • Share posters, signs, or other physical items 

  • Share social media (see note below

  • Sign up for an oral history

Note: please take extra care to remove any identifying information in images, videos, and/or social media of what might be construed as NON-PEACEFUL protests as these are being used by law enforcement to identify participants. Here are some ways to do that safely and securely: 

  • Remove EXIF data (i.e. location & device info): link to instructions for Windows and Mac users 

  • Blur faces in images: link to Image Scrubber for mobile and desktop; also removes EXIF 

  • Blur images in videos: link to various tools 

See also: The Blactivists’ Five Tips for Organizers, Protestors, and Anyone Documenting Movements.  

For questions, please contact 

  1. Submit your materials (note: Please read the below terms and conditions prior to submission

Once you are ready to share your story click on the button below to fill out a form and submit materials via file upload (Google account required) or link to URL. For non-sensitive materials, we also recommend including a preferred photo and short bio to provide context for your story. Again, we want to share and amplify your story.

For questions, including how to submit physical materials, please contact


Need help getting started or not sure where to begin? We have created a few prompts below to help stimulate your thoughts, but feel free to be creative.  

  • Have you experienced or witnessed police brutality? 

  • How has racism affected you?

  • Did you participate in a protest? What did you see and do? 

  • How has the #BlackLivesMatter movement impacted you? 

  • What reforms do you recommend? 

Keep in mind that important information for historians will include times and dates of events, observations, geographic locations, organizations, and/or other factual information that provides context to your story.  Please do not include any personal information of any individuals including yourself involved in what might be construed as NON-PEACEFUL protests. To repeat, law enforcement is using social media to identify individuals they perceive to be inciting violence. 

For additional help getting started, including individual consultations, please consult ISU's Writing and Media Center. The Writing and Media Center strives to inspire Iowa State University students, staff, faculty, and community members to develop in all forms of communication by promoting the values of critical thinking, creativity, and lifelong learning. In support of the Iowa State University Library’s project chronicling #Protests2020 stories, they are happy to offer one-on-one online consulting. They can help you brainstorm, draft, revise, and polish your story. They can also help you determine the best method for conveying your story, whether that be an essay, poem, video, or more. Please visit to schedule an appointment. 


Once you are ready to share your story click on the button below to fill out a form and submit materials via file upload (Google account required) or link to a URL. Note: Please read the below terms and conditions before submitting your story. For questions, please contact   

Sign up for an oral history  

If you would like to be interviewed as part of our #Protests2020 Oral History Project, please click below to fill out a form and we will contact you to schedule a Zoom interview, typically 30-45 minutes in length. Note: oral histories are subject to the below terms and conditions. For questions, please contact Mark Barron  

Terms and Conditions  

By submitting materials to Special Collections & University Archives, you agree to the following Terms and Conditions:  

  • Digital materials will be added to a Digital Collection, will become part of  Special Collections and University Archives housed in the Iowa State University Library, and will be made available in conformance with our mission of facilitating teaching, learning, and research.    

  • Physical materials will become part of Special Collections and University Archives housed in the Iowa State University Library through our regular donation process and donors must sign a deed of gift. Materials will be made available to the public when processed and according to the terms of the deed of gift.  

  • For purposes of clarity,  in participating in the #Protests2020 Project I  understand that  I hereby grant ISU all necessary rights to use the materials in any way, in all media now known or later invented, and may make the materials available on the Internet or in any other medium for public access and distribution, promotion, or marketing, unless content release or display restrictions are  otherwise specified on the submission form.  

  • I hereby represent and warrant that I am the owner or have the rights to use any and all material provided by me as part of my participation in the #Protests2020 Project.     

  • Digital submissions will be assigned a Creative Commons license. Under Creative Commons licenses creators retain copyright interest in the materials yet permit anyone to use the materials under the terms of the below license. This license allows Iowa State to use the interview materials in conformance with the Terms of Deposit and, in addition, authorize Iowa State to attach version 4.0 of the Creative Commons License specified below.   

 CC BY-NC-SA Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 
This license lets others share and adapt your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you, indicate if changes were made, and license their new creations under the identical terms. See  

  • I will be able to either release content immediately upon deposit or select a future date for release should I wish to restrict my materials for a period of time. 

  • Submissions from those under 18 years old require consent of an adult. 

  • I hereby release Iowa State University, their officers, employees, and agents (RELEASEES) from any liability or claim that arises out of or is related to the use or dissemination of my story.  I agree that I am to receive no further consideration other than that already received for any further or future uses by RELEASEES.  I intend for this agreement to be binding on my heirs, successors, and assigns, and it represents the entire agreement between RELEASEES and me regarding the matters herein agreed.