1900's African American history documentary

By Evrod Cassimy - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond area residents are taking part in a project documenting our history. The project is aimed a showcasing what life was like for residents in the early 1900's.

This looks like the set of a Hollywood film, complete with lighting equipment and cameras. The key players in this production however, are black senior citizens and Richmond natives telling real life stories about what life was like years ago.

It's all part of Richmond's African American oral history project, put on here by students at VCU's Department of African American studies. They're compiling stories of blacks, 90 years and older.

"I think it's really important to be involved in this project because you are a bridge to the past and young people, I think in order to go forward will have to have a connection to the triumphs and struggles that went before them," said Doctor Shawn Utsey with the Department of African American Studies at VCU.

Doctor Shawn Utsey is spearheading this project, now in its second year, and has already interviewed a number of people, some just in time.

"This woman passed away the very next day I interviewed her," Dr. Utsey said.

These faces represent black history in Richmond. With the help from current students, Doctor Utsey films the citizens in their homes asking simple questions about their quality of life.

"What was it like growing up? What did your parents do? What did you do growing up? When did you get married? Did you always live in Richmond? So there are so many things that will tell us what life was like in general for Richmonders," Dr. Utsey said. "This is a way to kind of capture the story of folks who during their lifetime were voiceless."

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