Listening Session Press Release
Williamsburg, VA, August 3, 2019 – The Village Initiative and the Union Baptist Church partnered this weekend to collect oral histories of school integration in the WJCC School District. Members of The Village Initiative arrived at Union Baptist Church on Saturday afternoon with dinner and audio recorders. They were welcomed by members of the Union Baptist Church, as well as others in the community, who were ready to share their experiences attending both segregated and integrated schools. “Sharing, acknowledging and archiving our history to be shared for generations is our duty,” said Jacqueline Bridgeforth Williams, founder of The Village Initiative, “We want to do the work so that the voices are no longer silent—they are to be heard forever. For so long we had no way to record and share our history. Now we have the opportunity with our partners to get it done. I want to thank everyone for their support and participation on this important community project.”
This oral history collection is part of The Village Initiative’s broader project to mark 2018-19 as the 50thanniversary of school integration in the WJCC School District. The Village Initiative will continue to collect oral histories over the next several months. The Village Initiative is collecting interviews from former students and teachers who attended segregated schools, who attended both segregated and integrated schools, and who attended only integrated schools. “I want invite everyone to share their stories,” Bridgeforth Williams says, “Doing the oral histories gives us the chance to hear from people who actually lived these experiences. The voices paint a clear picture of their lives and experiences and how their experiences have shaped our world as we live in it today. We can now hear from our elders about how change in the schools occurred, what we gained from it and what we lost. This work will help us to shape school policies to ensure a great big bright future for all youth. This is The Village Initiative’s mission. The elders and the young have carried these stories and are now passing the torch. Their stories are never to be forgotten. We want to honor them and thank them.”
This project will culminate in a public forum, “Integration Then and Now: Voices from the Community,” which will be held in September. The forum will elevate voices from the community in conversation with local school and community leaders about the future of racial and social equity in the WJCC schools.
If you would like to tell your story of school integration, please contact email@example.com. You can also share your story at http://www.villagewjcc.org. The Village Initiative invites everyone in the community to participate.