An exhibit in the Wilson Special Collections Library will tell the stories of black families and communities in the South, and will encourage African American families to partner with the Library in preserving their family history.
Southern Roots, Enduring Bonds: African American Families in North Carolina will be on view in the Southern Historical Collection (4th floor) March 20 through July 1, 2012. It will mark the launch of the African American Family Documentation Initiative in the Southern Historical Collection (SHC).
The focal point of the exhibit will be photographs, letters, and documents from the newly acquired Lewis Family Collection. Pioneering broadcaster J.D. Lewis was North Carolina’s first African American radio announcer, hired at WRAL in 1947. For nearly five decades, he was a leading local figure on radio and television, including as host of “Teenage Frolic,” a popular weekly dance program that debuted in 1958 on WRAL television.
Lewis’s daughter, Yvonne Lewis Holley, and her family chose to donate their father’s papers to the SHC in order to help preserve their family legacy.
“The boxes in our basement were filled with newsclippings, letters, photographs, and recordings, many from the 1950s and 1960s,” said Holley. “We wanted to make sure that these materials would go to an institution and actually be used by students, scholars, and the general public, and not just sit in boxes.”
Also on exhibit will be items relating to Civil Rights activist Floyd McKissick and his family, and archival photographs, letters, and news clippings related to African American families in Durham, Raleigh, and across North Carolina.
SHC archivist Holly Smith is the initiative coordinator and part of the team organizing the exhibit. She said she hopes North Carolina’s African American families will recognize the depth of the Library’s commitment to caring for family treasures and making them available for students and scholars to learn from.
“The University has a duty and obligation to the surrounding community to preserve the history of the people who worked, slaved, and labored in this area,” said Smith.
To learn more about the African American Family Documentation Initiative, contact Smith in the Southern Historical Collection at (919) 962-1345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.