|African-American experience to be exhibit, Web guide topic|
|Monday, October 05, 2009|
A set of 19th-century shackles, reportedly used for slaves. An original brochure from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the occasion of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
These items and 100 more will be displayed in a free public exhibit Thursday (Oct. 8) through Feb. 5 at the Wilson Special Collections Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We Shall Not Be Moved: African Americans in the South, 18th Century to the Present,” will be in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room on the third floor, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Related programs, listed below, will be offered throughout the fall semester.
“Each piece in the exhibit tells a story,” said Biff Hollingsworth, collecting and public programming archivist for the Southern Historical Collection in Wilson Library. “We hope that each item will spark larger discussions or give viewers new insight into this important history.”
UNC student groups will provide music, dance and spoken word performances to celebrate the exhibit at 5:45 p.m. Oct. 20 in Wilson Library. The Ebony Readers/Onyx Theater performance group will be among the student ensembles. A reception and exhibit viewing will begin at 5 p.m.
“We Shall Not Be Moved” will include photographs, letters, diaries and other items from the Southern Historical Collection that reflect Southern African-American experiences. A 1961 photograph of Coretta Scott King at an Ebenezer Baptist Church fashion show will be among items displayed.
The exhibit and events are part of an initiative by the Southern Historical Collection, “Documenting the African American Southern Experience.” At the initiative’s center will be the release of an updated and expanded Web guide to 900 archival collections at UNC featuring the experiences of African-Americans in the South. The guide will be previewed at the Oct. 20 reception.
The Southern Historical Collection, established in 1930, numbers about 24 million items.
“There are many large collections here, and it can be a challenge for students and researchers to find materials on African-Americans,” said archivist Holly Smith, Overholser Archival Fellow for African-American studies and one of four exhibit organizers.
Many clues about the lives of African-Americans are embedded in such materials as plantation inventories and government records.
“African-Americans are present in these records, but documents in their own voices are lacking.” said Smith. “In the last few decades, researchers have become increasingly interested in recovering those voices.”
The library presented some 230 of those voices by creating “North American Slave Narratives,” a Web site of writings by early black Americans. “Narratives” is part of the library’s “Documenting the American South” site (http://docsouth.unc.edu), which presents hundreds of first-person writings, images and audio files related to Southern history, literature, and culture.
Smith has been strengthening relationships with local African-American civic, cultural and educational organizations in hopes of expanding the Southern Historical Collection’s holdings. Said Hollingsworth, “We hope – through the exhibit, the Web guide and all of our events – to start conversations.”
Oct. 8-Nov. 20, UNC’s Davis Library: Displays related to “We Shall Not Be Moved,” 8 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays.
Oct. 8-Feb. 28, Library of UNC’s Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History: Displays related to “We Shall Not Be Moved,” 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays.
Oct. 28, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., campus: “Black-and-Blue Tour” of the UNC campus. Tim McMillan, Ph.D., UNC professor in African and Afro-American studies, will lead a walking tour of historical landmarks on campus. McMillan will discuss UNC’s racial history and the people and events that these landmarks commemorate. Begin at the Unsung Founders Memorial on UNC’s McCorkle Place, just off East Franklin Street across from the post office.
Nov. 2, 5:45 p.m., Wilson Library: Lecture: “Liberalism, Black Power, and the Making of American Politics, 1965-1980” address by Devin Fergus, assistant professor of history at Vanderbilt University. Fergus will discuss his book of the same title. He was a 2007 fellow of the Southern Historical Collection, and his book draws on research conducted at UNC. Reception at 5 p.m.
Nov. 18, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Wilson Library: Exhibit tour: “We Shall Not Be Moved: African Americans in the South, 18th Century to the Present,” led by Holly Smith, exhibit lead curator.
Dec. 1, 5:30 p.m., film auditorium, Frank Porter Graham Student Union: Film screening and panel discussion. A rare screening of the film “The First 100,” a 30-minute documentary produced in 1964 to promote the anti-poverty work of the North Carolina Fund, a charitable corporation that fought against poverty in the state in the 1960s.
Also shown will be excerpts from the 2007 documentary “Change Comes Knocking: The Story of the North Carolina Fund.” A panel discussion will follow featuring Billy Barnes, photographer for the North Carolina Fund; Rebecca Cerese, director and producer of “Change Comes Knocking” and Jim Leloudis, Ph.D., UNC associate professor of history.
Southern Historical Collection Web site: http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/shc/index.html
University Library contact: Holly Smith, (919) 962-1345,
; Biff Hollingsworth, (919) 962-1345,