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Marketing & Communications

Posted on: June 15, 2021

African American Heritage Initiative Offering Virtual Orientation Starting on Juneteenth

In conjunction with Juneteenth, the city’s African American Heritage Initiative Committee is posting this Saturday an online “virtual orientation” to better assist city residents who want to become involved with the initiative’s mission of preserving the experience of African Americans who lived in Winston-Salem through the years of segregation and desegregation.

The virtual orientation comprises five videos that cover such topics as the use of collection teams, duties of collection team members, how to conduct an oral history, how to use a smartphone to collect oral histories and more. 

A link to the AAHI virtual orientation page will be posted at CityofWS.org/AAHI. The videos on the page will be viewable on demand. The videos will also be posted on the city’s YouTube channel (City of Winston-Salem NC).

The virtual orientation takes the place of an in-person orientation that the AAHI committee canceled last year because of the pandemic, said Cynthia Villagomez, the chair of the AAHI Committee.  “In some respects, this virtual orientation will be more useful because it will be a resource for volunteers year-round,” Villagomez said.

City Council Member Annette Scippio, who initially proposed the initiative and has worked closely with the committee, said, “I hope that many current residents and those who now live in other places will help document African American life and people who lived, worked, and played and created rich experiences in Winston-Salem.”

The AAHI Committee has established an online archive and is soliciting anything that can be submitted electronically, including family and community photos, documents, written recollections, oral histories or any other item of historical interest. 

To assist with this effort it is setting up nine collection teams, each responsible for the history in a particular area: churches and religious institutions, neighborhoods, education, civic and service groups, government, arts and culture, professionals, businesses, and oral histories. 

Team members will reach out to others in the community and guide them through the process of submitting photos, stories, documents and interviews to the online archive. 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.

The online submission form, submission instructions and information about how to join a collection team are also posted at CityofWS.org/AAHI.

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