After spending a majority of her career developing and leading the Virtual Martin Luther King project, North Carolina State University professor Dr. Victoria J. Gallagher had the chance to see her hard work pay off last Fall.
The Virtual Martin Luther King project, also known as the vMLK project, is a multiphase product of North Carolina State University’s Communication Department. During the Fall of 2017, Gallagher received the Libraries Faculty Award from the University and The Harlan Joel Gradin Award for Excellence in Public Humanities by the North Carolina Humanities Council for her work on the project.
In addition to the awards, the project was selected to be shown at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in October 2017 as part of the first annual ACCelerate Festival, a festival that features projects from every school in the Atlantic Coast Conference. After receiving a great deal of local recognition, this event became an opportunity for Gallagher to earn national notoriety for her efforts.
The project’s success in Washington, D.C. has led to discussions of the possibility of having parts of the project become a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. It was also presented at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the AADHum conference at the University of Maryland in Fall of 2017. In addition, Gallagher and Dr. Keon Pettiway will present the project at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Kansas in Spring 2019.
The current exhibit lives at Hunt Library and includes a live reenactment of the speech at White Rock Baptist Church, video and audio recordings of the reenactment, a visualization lab, a gaming platform, and a virtual reality version of the speech. The gaming platform and the virtual reality version of the speech are the most recent additions to the project, making it the first project at NC State to make use of the motion-capture body suit purchased by the libraries. The updates to the virtual reality portion enables viewers to move throughout the balcony and choir area of the church for a more immersive experience and was first showcased to students during the weeks of Oct. 29 and Nov. 5. The vMLK experience has also been included in coursework for the university’s public speaking course, COM 110, giving students the opportunity to explore the exhibit first-hand.