ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
MEMORIES CAPTURED ON FILM
THE ORAL HISTORIES
Inspired by novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston, the leading authority on black culture from the Harlem Renaissance, and the Works Progress Administration’s Writers Project, we seek to continue the preservation of African American cultural survivals. Just as Hurston pursued this objective by combining literature with anthropology we have gone a step further by visiting these communities and capturing their memories on film.
Oral Histories weave such a strong thread into the fabric of our cultural understandings and a fascinating body of work was developed in the 1930s when The Works Progress Administration hired writers to interview many former slaves and even a few of the aging survivors of the Wanderer Africans.
In Africa,” “talking drums” resounded throughout the forest and grasslands, carrying messages from kingdom to kingdom. The repeated tonal patters created a language based on rhythm and beat that can still be heard today in Africa as well as American jazz.”
We interviewed many local residents including 96 year old, Miss Georgia Scott, long time Edgefield County resident and educator. She shared with us her memories of the African American Community using African style drums as a means of communication. There from one side of the Savannah to the other, she remembers the sound of the drums traveling across the river signaling a coded message.
Their words now are being incorporated into ongoing cultural anthropology projects designed to capture as much remaining information as possible before descendant memories of the slavery era finally vanish. The Wanderer Project has initiated a ‘Writer’s Project” that follows the work of the WPA interviewers. Genealogical research is finding more and more descendants of the original Africans and, as funds allow, video interviews are being conducted to capture any information these descendants and local residents have about their ancestors and their cultural traditions.
A MODERN DAY WRITERS PROJECT
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