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UNCG to post civil rights interviews on website

by Jordan Green

Greensboro, NC’— Accounts of the civil rights movement in Greensboro, as told in oral history interviews by those who helped make it, will be placed on the internet early next year as a result of a $10,000 grant by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro to UNCG.

University archivist Betty Carter said UNCG has hundreds of interviews in its collection that have been transcribed from audio recordings. The interviews were conducted by the Greensboro Public Library in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and by UNCG in the early 1990s, she said.

The grant from the Community Foundation will allow UNCG to check the written transcripts for typographical errors and then convert them to digital files that can be loaded onto the web. The university has named the project the ‘Civil Rights Oral History Digital Library.’ Carter said the university might add audio files later.

‘“I think it’s important that the history of Guilford County, Greensboro and the civil rights movement be preserved,’” she said. ‘“There’s a lot of interest in civil rights across the country. The idea of sitting in to protest something began here. This should dovetail nicely with the opening of the International Civil Rights Museum next year.’”

In addition to the 1960 Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins, the oral history project will also include material about integration efforts by the Greensboro Community Fellowship, the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, the American Friends Service Committee and the YWCA. The tapes also include interviews about the 1979 Klan-Nazi shootings. Rev. Nelson Johnson, a survivor of the shootings, is one of the interview subjects, Carter said.

Carter said she expects the first batch of interviews to be posted online in January 2006 and that the project will be completed by the following June.

Some oral history interviews conducted by the Greensboro Public Library are already posted on the internet at sitins.com, a site developed by the library and the News & Record. That website also includes interviews conducted by reporter Jim Schlosser. The civil rights museum’s website, sitinmovement.org, contains biographical information about some of participants in the Woolworth’s action, along with a short historical narrative of the event.

-Jordan Green

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