Winston-Salem collecting oral histories, items to preserve Black heritage

Winston-Salem collecting oral histories, items to preserve Black heritage

2:14pm Jun 17, 2022
A 1953 photo of North Carolina’s first integrated fire company in Winston-Salem. Photo courtesy of the City of Winston-Salem.

An initiative is underway in Winston-Salem to create a digital archive about African American heritage in the community through capturing oral histories.

Three years ago, Winston-Salem City Council approved a resolution that established the African American Heritage Initiative. The goal is to record and document lived experiences from the perspective of Black residents who lived and worked in the community, and collect information that highlights their contributions in the city’s history.

From churches and family reunions to theater and local businesses in Black neighborhoods, the city wants to preserve these memories through photos, documents, and other items that can be submitted electronically.

City Council Member Annette Scippio spearheaded the initiative and grew up in East Winston.

“We want to document that particularly the 50s, 60s, 70s, and then the period of desegregation and how that impacted our community," says Scippio. "We want people to talk about the neighborhoods that existed before urban renewal came in.”

Scippio says residents can upload materials on the city’s website. The African American Heritage Committee and city staff are also bringing scanners and video equipment to record oral histories at some local festivals and events this year.

This will take place on Saturday, June 18, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the Juneteenth Festival at Bailey Park and Biotech Place in Innovation Quarter.

The city is partnering with DigitalNC for the archive. It’s unclear when that information will be available on the site.

Follow WFDD's  Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news.

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