FLORENCE, Ala. – Project Say Something and the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library are teaming up to launch the Florence African American Heritage Project; and the University of North Alabama’s Public History students will be lending a hand.
The African American Heritage project, made possible by a grant from the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area, will establish a series of “History Harvests” in which community members are invited to share personal materials that provide a fuller picture of the history and life of African Americans in Florence.
UNA students will help by publicizing the harvests in the community and helping to collect oral histories. Additionally, they’ll help organize, curate, and incorporate the material into Florence’s bicentennial timeline.
Grant project manager Brian Murphy said relevant artifacts could include things like photographs.
“It could also be legal records, personal letters, newspaper clippings, handbills, annotated family Bibles and family recipes,” Murphy said. “We also welcome oral history interviews. We’ll have on-site cameras, scanners, laptops and voice recorders to assist with the digitization of these items.”
Murphy said topics may include, but are not limited to, slavery and the Civil War (including the Forks of Cypress Plantation and the Alabama Civil War Trail); the Freedmen’s Bureau and postbellum African American life; African American employment at the TVA; African American music and art; the Civil Rights Era and the local chapter of the NAACP; desegregation and schooling; housing and urban development; the establishment of African American and integrated businesses; and notable African American community leaders in Florence.
All materials gathered will be uploaded to a living database housed under the FLPL website’s local history tab and will also be included in Florence’s upcoming bicentennial celebration. Murphy said the database will be curated and unveiled during Black History Month at the FLPL. Finally, the materials will be used to create an educational packet that can be implemented in regional fourth-grade classrooms.
The “History Harvests” will take place Sept. 17, at Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, from 2-5 p.m., Oct. 29, at the Handy Recreation Center, from 2-5 p.m., and Nov. 19, at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, from 2-5 p.m.