Dr. Reyes is the granddaughter of Paul Shields (1890-1963) and Cora Irene Sydnor Shields (1900-1979); and the great-granddaughter of Patrick Robert “Parker” Sydnor (1854-1950).
When she was told by a local Southside historian that the Sydnor log cabin site could be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Dr. Reyes began to research its 19th- and 20th-century history, which included the history of African American families, including her own, connected to the site.
In 2010, the site was successfully listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. This historic property is a tangible representation of African American history in the Virginia Commonwealth.
Dr. Reyes, professor emerita in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University, made the Sydnor cabin site and its stories a major award-winning research project—integrating vernacular architecture, literacy, public records, and oral history traditions to access the lives of African Americans from the eras of enslavement, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and the present-day. She wrote about her research journey in the essay, “Not Even Past: Six Acres and a Mule or Searching for Vicey Skipwith.”
Literacy InterActives was born out of a vision of interactive approaches to literacy in order to bridge communities in Southside Virginia and beyond.