Students work to record history by interviewing elders in South - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Students work to record history by interviewing elders in South Memphis

(Source: Crossroads to Freedom) (Source: Crossroads to Freedom)

All summer long, a group of South Memphis teens have been busy documenting and celebrating history.

It’s called the Neighborhood History Project, funded in part by the Memphis GiVE 365 grant. For six weeks over the summer, 11 students have been mentored by Crossroads to Freedom’s college interns. They spent their summer on the Rhodes College campus, learning interviewing techniques to help discover positive memories and valuable wisdom from their neighborhood elders. 

Then they took to the streets with video, audio, lighting, editing and other technology skills needed to capture oral histories in South Memphis. The interviews were preserved on the archive. Last week, the group presented their highlights of the oral histories as well as what they have learned over the summer. Through the project, the youth claimed their own voices and were reminded the power to be agents of change, all in hopes to build an even stronger South Memphis.

Organizers said the act of exploring history and heritage is essential to the work of community building. The shared history from neighborhood residents form a cohesive identity and sense of community. The students who participated felt a stronger ownership of their community and their future as a result.

This is the 3rd summer that the Center for Transforming Communities has partnered with the South Memphis Shalom Zone, Knowledge Quest, and the Crossroads to Freedom Initiative at Rhodes College to offer the Neighborhood History Project.

The students ranged in age from 13 to 17 and most of them live in South Memphis.

A new component to the project this summer was the development of a South Memphis history website. The youth worked with fellows from Crossroads to develop content for and design a website that presents the history of the neighborhood and includes a number of their past interviews.  
The group interviewed five elders this summer.  These interviews will be archived at along with the interviews from the past two summers.

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