In 2018 Prof. Matthew Barr received a Carnegie Mellon grant for the Unsung Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement project.
In the 2019/2020 academic year, two student teams of two students each (one drawn from History, and one from Media Studies) conducted interviews with civil rights activists from the 60s and 70s. By the conclusion of the project, they had shot seven interviews which will go online in the Archive by June 2020. The student participants are: Muhammad Karim and Atigre Farmer from the Media Studies Department and October Kamara and Summer Kinney from the History Department.
Voices Off Set: Reflections on the Unsung Heroes Project
- Student Author(s): Atigre Farmer, Senior (Media Studies, Spanish), October Kamara, Senior (History), Muhammad Karim, Senior (Media Studies), Summer Kinney, Senior (History)
- Faculty Mentor(s): Matthew Barr (Media Studies), Jennida Chase (Media Studies), Torren Gatson (History), Hassan Pitts (Media Studies)
The goal of the Unsung Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement project is to collect and record oral histories of lesser known people who stood beside their more famous counterparts such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, John Lewis and others. While their names are less familiar, their stories and recollections represent the pervasive courage and strength of the thousands of people who struggled for equality. Capturing these narratives is urgently needed, while the participants are still with us. Without action, their stories may be lost to the passage of time.
Two student teams recorded these oral/video histories in the form of 4K video. The students assisted in a larger ongoing project, their work dovetailing into the national project which will span six decades of history from 1960 to the present. Through this experience, students were trained in oral history techniques and research skills applicable in an academic context and beyond. This round table discussion highlights their experiences and showcases what they learned from this opportunity.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic all interviews recorded since March 2020 have been done remotely via zoom.
Additonal Project Support
- Spring 2018: $10,160 Carnegie Mellon grant for the Unsung Heroes Project, part of a larger Carnegie Mellon grant to UNCG: "Transforming the Humanities at a Minority Serving Institution: Funding for Interdisciplinary Faculty-Student Collaborative Groups."
- Fall-Spring 2019/2020: In-kind support for digitization of materials, UNCG Libraries.
- Fall 2020: UNCG Faculty Research Assignment to Prof. Matthew Barr for collecting interviews and continued project development.
- 2010-present: The Unheard Voices Project, support for travel, equipment, and materials.
Building a Legacy
The Unsung Heroes Project is preserving stories of courage and resistance that otherwise would be lost. Perhaps one of the most important messages of these stories is how, in the face of insurmountable odds during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras, individuals reached deep down and found the courage to stand up and fight for change. In an era when we are seeing a marked increase in racism and prejudice against all people of color, these stories are often inspirational and provide a sense of hope in the face of overwhelming odds.
The interviews in this archive are for informational and historical purposes only. The views and opinions therein are those of the individual speakers and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, its affiliates or employees.