Fairmont State University has received a grant to facilitate the collection and preservation of a series of interviews with elders of color throughout West Virginia from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission through the Diversity for Equity grant program.
“At the Elders’ Feet: Conversations Across the Generations” is a project designed to produce a collection of interviews and related media with notable and recognized elders of color within the region in order to preserve the perspective and wisdom of previous generations.
The project will be directed by Ilene Evans, communication professor at Fairmont State.
“Our goal is to help our young people hear the stories of strength, courage and resilience from the elders in our community who have lived through hard times and challenges like the ones we are facing today,” said Evans. “From those conversations we would like to build a repository of their stories. Students will be using different media to share those conversations and their creative responses to what they learn. We intend to share the students’ work widely throughout the community in the form of performance art, photo journals, podcasts, and paintings.”
Through this project, students will interview elders of color in West Virginia who have lived through challenging and turning-point times in modern history, such as World War II, the Jim Crow era, race riots, segregation, assassinations of leaders, and the Vietnam War. Faculty will guide students in preparing interview questions and documentation such as photographs, videos, and interview transcripts. The students will create and curate artwork and media based on these interviews that can be shared with the community.
The $5,000 grant will support the collection of interviews and the development of the related media and materials.
Once completed, the curated collection will be housed at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on the campus of Fairmont State University.