Public History, Humanities Initiatives Partner to Explore, Preserve History of Athens, One Story at a Time

Submitted by Camie on

Through livecast oral history interviews, Black and African American Athenians will tell the story of the city in a program bringing together public history and humanities partners called One Story Athens.

The year-long, community oral history program is produced by local non-profit Historic Athens and supported by the UGA Libraries and other partners. The online broadcasts are aired live every Friday afternoon 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Historic Athens’ Facebook page. In addition, interviews will be archived and made accessible freely online through UGA Libraries’ oral history database, Georgia Oral History.

“The One Story Athens initiative includes documenting, archiving, centering, and amplifying Athens’ diverse voices through special programming—all in an effort to deepen individuals’ sense of place and connection to the community,” said Hope Iglehart, Historic Athens’ director of engagement and African American heritage, who hosts conversations with local Athenians on the weekly broadcasts.

Recent interviews feature acclaimed foodways writer and cookbook author Nicole Taylor, restauranteur Kelbourne Codling of Kelly’s Jamaican, funeral home owner Shane Blackwell, and non-profit and community leaders Kimberly Bennett and Alvin Sheats. Each interview illuminates stories and narratives of Athens from its Black communities that are not known widely outside of it, and affords the audience personal insights into the unfolding and continuing history of Athens.

Throughout the series, interviews will center on questions of societal and historical development, displacement, civil rights, education, culture and economic vitality, intertwined with themes of values, motivations, and generational transitions.

“One Story Athens will bring awareness to communities and connect generations with their heritage, amplify voices, and bring new life to historic spaces that are an important fabric of Athens’ landscape,” Iglehart said. “Narratives of neighborhoods, music, art, foodways, civic, politics, religion, and activism will help to tell a fuller story of Athens.”

The One Story Athens Initiative is funded as part of a Mellon Foundation grant to UGA’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. The grant established a series of public humanities programs including one on Humanities in Place, which supports the Russell Library Oral History Program’s Athens African American Oral History Initiative, a community-centered model of shared authority and agency that supports oral history activities to amplify Black voices in Athens. A Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Seed Grant supported the development of this community-engaged model.

What does One Story Athens look like?

  • Every Friday, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., Historic Athens Facebook, 52 weeks of livecast, one-hour online interviews with Athenians, conducted and curated by Hope Iglehart, in collaboration coordinated with Christian Lopez, head of the Russell Library Oral History Program at the University of Georgia
  • 6 long-form, traditional oral history interviews
  • 12 in-person History Hours public programs at the Lyndon House Arts Center
  • Interviews will archived and made accessible online through the UGA Libraries’ oral history database Georgia Oral History.