February 2015

Field Notes
Stories from the Southern Oral History Program

Director's Note

 

UNC-Chapel Hill has selected Food as its campus research theme for the next two years. With our colleagues in History, American Studies, the American Indian Center, and other units on campus, I look forward to seeing SOHP's work in this area deepen and expand. As you know, we have already been working on various foodways projects for the last two years: a collaboration with the PBS television series "A Chef's Life" and with the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) on Lumbee Indian foodways. Our compatriots here at Southern Cultures are publishing an article and photo essay on Lumbees that I co-wrote with the SFA's Sara Wood. Sara and another one of our partners, Jefferson Currie, are also scheduled to present at the State of the Plate Conference hosted by UNC-Chapel Hill in March of 2015. Eric Locklear, one of Sara's interviewees, and owner of the legendary Lumbee restaurant Fuller's Barbeque, will be on hand to give everyone at the conference a taste of the Lumbee collard sandwich. In the meantime, Lumbee foodways have received marked attention from publications and blogs such as Southern Living, Our State magazine, Garden and Gun, and the SFA podcast series Gravy.

 

"A Chef's Life" has just wrapped up broadcast of Season Two, with a consistently growing viewership and social media fan base. We are busy leveraging that attention to secure support for an ambitious outreach program that brings together North Carolina's food renaissance with the issues of food justice and food insecurity. Oral history is a tremendous resource for this work, and UNC's remarkable leadership in American Indian Studies, Southern Studies, and Food Studies makes this an ideal time to deepen our engagement with communities in the state to address issues that matter to them the most. We want to keep changing the conversation about Southern food to discuss how our region's practices are the products of sophisticated, global exchanges that cannot be reduced to the conventional questions about food traditions, and cannot leave out the issues of inequity and economic development that those exchanges have produced.

 

Already this semester, Professors Marcie Ferris and Sharon Holland invited me to lecture in the first-ever "Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats" class (on Instagram @ncfoodways). Professor Ferris describes the class and UNC's work around food studies here. You can listen to excerpts from the lecture, where I discuss SOHP's work around foodways and more generally, and how oral history helps us better understand the people behind these food traditions that are now such a hot topic, both here at UNC and around the country. As ever, SOHP is ahead of the curve! 

 

 

--Malinda Maynor Lowery

 
Amy Evans Visits SOHP

As part of our growing focus on Southern Foodways, Artist and documentarian Amy Evans came to the most recent SOHP lunchtime colloquium to discuss her work.  Evans, whose website is called Art and Pie, talked with students, faculty and staff about the connections she draws between her visual art and her work as an oral historian. Evans collected 350 interviews for the Southern Foodways Alliance.  Graduate students Taylor Livingston and Katie Womble added to the festive nature of the event by providing pies.

Meet the 2015 Moxie Scholars!
Z Tugman, Anne Zhou, Clara Femia, Emily Carrino, Zakyree Wallace, and Kadejah Murray are our new Moxies for this year.  This great group of young women are taking Rachel Seidman's class on Oral History and Women's Activism in the South, and then this summer will undertake full-time internships in local women's organizations.  To find out more about them, please visit the Moxie website!  

Interns Explore Desegregation through SOHP Collection

A classroom in Anacostia High School, Washington, D.C., in 1957.

(Image: Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress)


In anticipation of a new digital project mapping clips from our collection for high school history and civics teachers in North Carolina, two of our interns have been searching for stories about the desegregation of schools across the state.  Holly Plouff, one of our communications interns, wrote the following update about her classmates' work and what they have been learning.


Samantha Gregg and Liz Kennedy have been "mining the archives" in order to better understand the desegregation of North Carolina public schools in the 1960s and 70s. The process of desegregation is widely oversimplified in public memory, and by taking these stories and adding context to them, we have painted a clearer picture of the gradual change and removal of "separate but equal" policies. According to Liz  "Stories like these are particularly relevant as we celebrate Black History Month, and honor the contributions and sacrifices of those who came before us." Often the "little people" are forgotten in history while in reality their contributions were not so little at all. Samantha has noticed in her research the effect that athletes had on the process of segregation. "As star athletes came together from the segregated schools and combined to make even stronger athletic teams, they created a shared interest that all students, not dependent on race, could cheer for."  It's the different perspectives that oral histories provide us with that affect our perceptions of history and how everything goes into the bigger picture. As far as the struggle for desegregation in the south goes, Samantha probably put it best: "It took special individuals to reach out and help the process along, and how often times, though the administration thought they were doing what was best, their opinions were unintentionally misguided. It was a complicated process, not without conflict, that everyone had to work together to figure out over time."  --Holly Plouff


 

SOHP Launches Practicum for Advanced Undergrads 

Recognizing the need to provide a way for undergraduates who have already taken an oral history course to build on their passion for research, the SOHP recently launched the Oral History Practicum. The practicum provides an individualized program where students can undertake their own oral history projects in an intense. structured and guided independent study. Our first two Practicum students are Kiever Hunter and Jackson Hall, whom our Field Scholars Taylor Livingston and Evan Faulkenbury are advising.  Communications Intern Bryan Smith interviewed  Kiever and Jackson to find out more about them and their research. 

 

Kiever Hunter is a senior with majors in Southern Studies and Political Science and a minor in City and Regional Planning. Kiever's early exposure to oral history was through his Southern Studies courses and particularly 

Kiever Hunter

Jacquelyn Hall's oral history course, which culminated in a research project on Junaluska, a Black "community within a community" in Kiever's hometown of Boone. Another research interest of his is the rapper Killer Mike from Atlanta. This developed into Kiever's current project: Black radio as a form of resistance. Working with the SOHP to unearth histories from the 1930's through the classical Civil Rights era, he hopes to bring insight to contemporary Black radio through oral history. In his spare time, Kiever shares his interest in Southern music as a DJ for UNC's radio station, WXYC.

 

Jackson Hall is a junior from Montgomery, Alabama, majoring in American Studies with a Creative Writing minor in poetry.  Jackson took an oral history C-Start class taught by former SOHP interns Mary Clare Mazzochi and Meg 

Jackson Hall

VanDeusen. Jackson started an ethnographic research project last semester with some classmates on the hip-hop collective The Justus League, from which the underground hip-hop group Little Brother emerged.  He is working on an oral history project this semester that extends that work.  Jackson hopes to go to graduate school in folklore.  

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Infrastructure of Rural Segregation 

Faculty affiliate Seth Kotch and field scholar Darius Scott continue to explore the issue of rural segregation through our Back Ways project.  Lately Darius has been in the archives researching the Good Roads program of the Progressive Era.  The minutes and notes that he found "show the planning process behind much of the 20th century development projects that may have affected the spatial segregation of people in the South."  You can read Darius' most recent blog post about the Back Ways project here.  


News from Our Friends 
Scott Ellsworth, who teaches in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, wrote to let us know about the release of his new book, The Secret Game, which will be published by Little, Brown on March 10th.  The book tells the story of the clandestine, racially integrated college basketball game between the North Carolina College for Negroes and a wartime team from Duke, which took place in Durham on March 19, 1944. 

Scott wrote, "Nearly forty years ago, I was an early associate of the SOHP, both as a researcher on the original Piedmont Industrialization Oral History project, as well as a student of Jackie Hall's.  And even though I was, officially, a graduate student in the Oral History Program at Duke, I've always considered myself an alumnus of the SOHP as well..."  

We're so glad that Scott wrote to us to tell us of his new book, which draws on his skills as an oral historian.  We hope that you, too, will write and share your good news--and let us spread the word to others!