Essence of Mom 2.0: Media, Memory, and Community across an Extended African American Family

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State UP


Along with the other pieces in this collection, this project addresses these gaps, focusing on the six-year process Lillie Jenkins, one of the co-authors, undertook with her extended family to create a digital text documenting the life and legacy of her mother, Martha M. “MJ” Jenkins. An African American woman born in 1929, MJ led an extraordinary life as a nurse, cook, and church leader who raised seven children and served God and her rural Georgia community through her care and company, especially in the form of lively stories and expressions, cooking, and African American textile arts. Following Jenkins family tradition, MJ served as the woman of her generation who remembered and passed on family practices, genealogies, and stories, infusing these traditions into her everyday interactions with her children and especially into special occasions like holidays and the family’s annual gathering. After MJ’s passing in 2008, Lillie realized that she had become the designated family “historian” of her generation, the child who’d taken the most interest in MJ’s family lore and traditions. In part to document and pass on this inheritance and in part to work through her grief over MJ’s passing, Lillie began work on a family history project whose intended audience was her extended family: MJ’s surviving siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. This project, which became known as the MJ Project, grew in size and complexity in terms of both its content and its format between 2009 and 2014, involving members of the extended Jenkins family, with Lillie serving as compiler and primary author.

Chapter of

Racial Shorthand: Coded Discrimination Contested in Social Media


Cruz Medina
Octavio Pimentel