African-American Genealogy Workshop & Adaptive Reuse Charrette
African-American Genealogy Workshop & Adaptive Reuse Charrette

African-American Genealogy Workshop & Adaptive Reuse Charrette

On Tuesday, June 11, 2019, CHW hosted two events at the Power House in the recently renovated Rocky Mount Mills. The afternoon event was a “charrette” on the intersections of adaptive reuse of iconic historic sites and community history/archiving projects. The evening event was centered on African American family history and genealogy.

Rocky Mount Mills lit up at night

Both events were supported by a grant to the CHW from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives and Records Administration.

The afternoon charrette brought together more than 20 invited adaptive reuse stakeholders from across North Carolina: major adaptive reuse developers, architects, government agencies, North Carolina’s principal historic preservation organization, non-profit investors, local history and art museums, local history librarians, cultural heritage organizations, and community members. They were joined by representatives of key units of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Together they addressed the broad question “How might the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of iconic historic sites catalyze community history and archiving initiatives?” Discussion was moderated by Robert Allen, James Logan Godfrey Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Co-Director of the UNC Community Histories Workshop

Among the participants were:

  • Sarah Almond, Project Coordinator, Community Histories Workshop
  • Robert Allen, Co-Director, UNC Community Histories Workshop
  • Melody Bardowell, Envolve Opticals, community member
  • Eddie Belk, Principal, Belk Architects
  • Jerry Bolas, Former Director, Ackland Art Museum, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Nicole Coscolluela, Project Coordinator, CHW Rocky Mount Mills Project
  • Evan Covington Chavez, Rocky Mount Mills Project Manager, Capitol Broadcasting Co.
  • Ina Dixon, PHD Candidate, American Studies, UNC-CH
  • Elijah Gaddis, Co-Director, CHW; Assistant Professor, Dept. of History, Auburn University
  • Maggie Gregg, Regional Director, Preservation North Carolina
  • Emma Haney, Revolution Mills Project Manager, Self-Help, Inc.
  • George Jones, Senior Conservation Manager, Triangle Land Conservancy
  • Jack Kiser, Loray Mill Village Project Manager, Preservation North Carolina
  • Jason Luker, Director, Gaston County Museum of Art and History
  • Todd Owen, Assistant Director, UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies
  • Marcia Perritt, Associate Director, UNC Development Finance Initiative
  • Chaitra Powell, Project Manager, Community Driven Archives Project, UNC Southern Historical Collection
  • Bernetiae Reed, Staff Member, Community Driven Archives Project, UNC Southern Historical Collection
  • Rob Shapard, Lecturer, Dept. of History, UNC-Chapel Hill; Project Manager Walnut Hill History Project
  • Deja Smith, Community Engagement Associate, Triangle Land Conservancy
  • Traci Thompson, Local History and Genealogy Librarian, Braswell Memorial Library, Rocky Mount, NC
  • Jason Tomberlin, Head, Research and Instructional Services, UNC Wilson Library Special Collections

Most guests were there in person but there were several who took part via Zoom

The second event of the day focused on the resources, tools, and methods available for African American individuals wanting to investigate their roots, which is rife with obstacles. CHW invited four speakers who covered vastly different topics pertaining to African American genealogy:

  1. Beverly Fields Burnette – President of the NC Association of Black Storytellers and member of the Triangle chapter of the AAHGS
  2. Jason Tomberlin – Head, Research and Instructional Services, UNC Wilson Library Special Collections
  3. Fred Watts – Member of the Greensboro chapter of AAHGS, advisory board member of UNC-Greensboro’s “People, Not Property” project
  4. Nadia K. Orton – Member of the Hampton Roads chapter of AAHGS and the Phoenix Historical Society; advocate of the preservation of African American cemeteries and burials

Guests did not just come from Rocky Mount but other parts of North Carolina and even Virginia! After the speakers presented, guests had the opportunity to mingle, network, and ask additional questions as they munched on catering from Tap@1918, a restaurant right on the mill campus and whose head chef is African American.

A flyer for the event

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