My thanks to Holly Hoag and the good folks at Eastern Carolina Village and Farm Museum for inviting me to present as part of their lecture series, “History Speaks.” I talked to a full house about where we can find documentation of the lives of enslaved ancestors, sharing Wilson County examples that I’ve found in the course of researching for Black Wide-Awake. The audience was engaged and attentive, asked lots of questions, and shared bits of their own research experiences over the course of two hours. As a bonus, I connected with one of the principal descendant collaborators working to reclaim Ayden, North Carolina’s African-American cemetery! (More about that project soon.)
Eastern Carolina Village and Farm Museum comprises 22 historic buildings representing the architecture and rural life heritage of this region from 1840-1940.
The museum is on the former site of the Pitt County Home for the Aged and Infirm, whose residents residents farmed the land. The County Home’s original barn is still standing, and the museum relocated other buildings, including a one-room school house, a general store, etc. to the site, and two 1890s-era farm buildings donated by a local African American family. The museum has recently partnered with East Carolina University’s Joyner Library on an oral history project to conduct interviews with under-represented eastern North Carolina farm families. ECVFM is only 45 minutes down the road from Wilson, and I strongly recommend a visit.
Shout out to Regina Carter-Garcia, a local professor/poet/genealogist, who hyped the event beforehand and showed up to share insightful experience, and to my mama; Meike Darville of Scarborough House (which has become an amazing partner to Lane Street Project); and Castonoble Hooks, who traveled from Wilson County to support their homegirl!
I’m excited about this opportunity to speak at Greenville’s Eastern Carolina Village and Farm Museum on August 3. I’ll be talking about the ways and places we can find evidence of our enslaved ancestors. It’s difficult work, but not impossible with patience and providence. Come through, Pitt County!