Say Their Names: Preserving Wilson N.C.’s Slave Pasts reveals the array of documentary evidence available to African-American families searching for their ancestors and all interested in broadening their understanding of Wilson County history.
Say Their Names is on display through the end of the year at Imagination Station — which is reopening September 8!
Imagination Station, which is also (and chiefly) an awesome children’s science museum, is located at 224 Nash Street E, Wilson. Its telephone number is (252) 291-5113. Please support local museums and local history!
Photographs by Janelle Booth Clevinger, Special to Wilson Daily Times, 1 March 2020.
First, though Imagination Station was closed to the general public due to the pandemic, director Jennifer Baker Byrd opened its doors to my sister, in town from New Jersey, to visit Say Their Names. Thank you, Jennifer! The museum opens to members beginning this weekend. Please consider joining, and keep an eye out for a full opening soon!
Second, thanks to Digital NC, who shone a spotlight on Black Wide-Awake for its use of materials digitized through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.
Third, “Black Wide-Awake” is trademarked!
“Educational services, namely, conducting seminars, lectures and workshops in the field of genealogy and African-American history; Consultation services in the field of African-American histories; Providing of a website featuring information on historical people, places and events in the nature of non-downloadable primary source documents, images and research papers.”
Last night, I spent an hour on Facebook Live in conversation with Amelia Rivera Speight and Craig Barnes Jr. of Change Coalition of Wilson. At the end, I was both full and spent and above all grateful for the opportunity to talk about what Say Their Names means to me. With Change Coalition’s permission, I share video of our discussion here.
Imagination Station is still closed, but Change Coalition plans to lead more private tours of Say Their Names in coming months. You can also contact director Jennifer Baker Byrd at the museum to arrange a visit. Please see it for yourself. Also, please join The Change Coalition on Facebook and support their efforts to dismantle systemic barriers to equality and promote justice and opportunity for all Wilson’s people.
The Change Coalition of Wilson presents “Translating Pain Into Purpose: Wake Up, Wide Awake Spirit Week” — five days of programming to promote civil, historical, educational, legislative and social awareness !
Today, Craig Barnes Jr. will be leading groups of visitors on a tour of Say Their Names, my exhibit at Imagination Station. If you didn’t get an opportunity to see the exhibit before the pandemic temporarily closed the museum’s doors, please come out today. I couldn’t be prouder of the work Change Coalition is putting in to push Wilson forward, and I’m pleased to be able to contribute to the curriculum of change.
During the Great Depression, writers contracted by the Works Progress Administration collected more than 2,300 oral histories from formerly enslaved people. At least five women and men shared their recollections of slavery in Wilson County. For the upcoming exhibit I curated documenting enslaved African-Americans in Wilson County, I asked four contemporary Wilsonians to lend their voices to bring to life the transcripts of four oral history interviews. Each person has roots that have been chronicled in Black Wide-Awake, and I am deeply grateful for their enthusiastic participation.
Thank you, Mildred Hall Creech, whose Hall, Henderson and Artis families have appeared here.
Thank you, Annie Finch Artis, shown here with husband Adam Freeman Artis. Their Artis and Finch lines have been featured in Black Wide-Awake.
Thank you, Castonoble Hooks and Velma Hoskins Barnes. Mr. Hooks’ grandmother has been featured here, as has Mrs. Barnes’ Simms family.
Say Their Names opens a week from today at Wilson’s Imagination Station Science and History Museum. I look forward to seeing you there, but if you’re unable to make it, I hope you’ll make your way to the museum this year.
Photographs courtesy of Brooke Bissette, Imagination Station.
The closing day of Black History Month is the opening day of Say Their Names: Reclaiming Wilson, North Carolina’s Slave Past. I’m immensely honored to have been invited by Wilson’s science and history museum, Imagination Station, to curate this exhibit, which grew from a talk I gave at Wilson County Public Library a few years ago.
Say Their Names will be on display through the end of 2020, and I hope you’ll get to Wilson before then to see it. I’d love to see you on opening day, too, when I’ll be there to greet and thank you.