African-American Heritage Initiative

African-American Heritage Initiative logoAfrican-Americans played a significant role in the city’s history, but during the era of segregation – often referred to as the "Jim Crow" era – their contributions frequently were overlooked and unrecorded. The city’s African-American Heritage Initiative addresses this shortcoming by collecting the history of Winston-Salem during segregation as well as the efforts of desegregation.


AAHI Submission Button

The initiative is sponsoring a digital archive and is inviting city residents to contribute to it. We’re looking for just about anything that can be submitted electronically:

  • Photos
  • Documents
  • Written recollections
  • Oral histories
  • Other items of historical interest that can be submitted electronically

The initiative is casting a wide net and is accepting submissions relating to churches, neighborhoods, schools and education, civic groups, government, arts and culture, the professions and businesses, and more. It has organized collection teams to enlist the help of city residents in this effort. Learn more about the collection teams and how to get involved.

The ultimate goal is to create an archive that can be searched and used by anyone researching some aspect of African-American history in Winston-Salem. For now, the initiative is just accepting submissions. The search and retrieval function will be made public at a later date.

This initiative will only be as successful as contributors make it. The more specific you can be with the information you provide with your submission, the more useful it will be to future researchers. See our Tips page for guidance.

On this page are links to useful information and form to submit items to the archive.

The initiative is being directed by the African-American Heritage Initiative Committee.  Learn more about the committee.

Read the current AAHI newsletter: AAHI Winter 2023 Newsletter

In this short video, AAHI Committee members Linda Dark and Annette Wilson give an example of the kind of story that the AAHI is seeking to preserve.

Lester Ervin with First All Black Fire Company in 1950

Public Disclosure 

Before you submit any items, bear in mind that once the item is submitted to the city it falls under the North Carolina laws pertaining to government records. Government records in North Carolina generally are public in nature. The public policy of the state of North Carolina as established by the General Assembly is to "provide that, as a general rule, the public would have liberal access to public records."

The North Carolina Public Records Law states that public records "shall mean all documents papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina or its subdivisions." For information to be confidential, a specific provision must be made in the law.