A local project is seeking to capture and preserve the history of African Americans in Lincoln County, and organizers say they need your help.
The Lincoln County Voices Oral History Project aims to document and preserve the rich history and heritage of the African American community by collecting personal histories through interviews.
Eventually, it is hoped a professional exhibition, complete with photographs of African-American businesses, churches, civic and fraternal organizations, families and life in Lincoln County, will be presented. The oral histories will be incorporated into the exhibition.
â€œItâ€™s important for the African-American community, and also for Lincoln County history, period, because so much of the history of the African-American community has gone undocumented,â€ said Jason Harpe, director of the Lincoln County Museum of History.
The project got started when the Rev. Robert Hamilton, president of the local NAACP, came to Harpe to discus the best way to start collecting and preserving history.
An advisory committee composed of African-American community leaders was formed, and the group immediately started working to compile a list of well-known blacks to interview, Harpe said.
So far, theyâ€™ve completed interviews with two people â€” Leroy Magness and Leonard Holloway â€” and have had great success.
â€œBoth were great interviews â€” entertaining, forthright,â€ Harpe said. â€œThey were very open to somewhat difficult questions â€¦. dealing with race.
â€œThey just told stories about what they remember about growing up in Lincoln County â€” places, people, anecdotes.â€
There are 33 names left on the advisory committeeâ€™s list.
But that list is expected to grow as word gets around about the project, Harpe said, which means a substantial amount of work for volunteers.
And thatâ€™s where the community comes in. Increasing the number of people whoâ€™ll be conducting interviews will greatly affect the projectâ€™s timeline.
â€œWeâ€™re asking for people not only to call and give us names â€¦ but also people that want to volunteer as interviewers,â€ Harpe said. â€œWe would like to have close to 50 to 75 interviews done by the beginning of next year.â€
Volunteers will be trained on what questions to ask and how to handle different situations. The suggested interview time is about an hour and a half, Harpe said, but session lengths can vary depending on the person.
A class at Gaston College taught by Audrey Lail will be helping out in the fall by transcribing the taped interviews, Harpe said.
The interviews will also be burned onto CDs, which will be incorporated into displays featuring push-button playback technology and a future Web site database.
Want to help?
Suggested interview subjects: People who were born, lived in Lincoln County in the past, or those who currently live in the county; those who started businesses, participated in civic and fraternal organizations, churches and festivals; community leaders.
Volunteers: Should be versatile and good at working with people. Will be trained on interviewing tactics.
Contributions: The project also needs financial contributions to cover the costs of recording technology. To help in any of these areas, contact Harpe at 704-748-9090 or firstname.lastname@example.org Alice Smith