Voting Rights Museum receives grant

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 2004

Representatives of the ALA-TOM Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, headquartered in Grove Hill, presented a check for $7,500 to the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute on Thursday morning.

The grant will assist the museum in preserving hundreds of oral and video histories of area black leaders.

Acting Director Joanne Bland estimates that there are some 500 tapes in the collection and some are in severe danger of being lost.

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Some perhaps are already damaged irretrievably.

Special methods will be tried on those tapes to see if anything can be found and preserved.

The tapes will be preserved on DVD. Future interviews will be done on digital camcorders and saved on DVD with a new computer.

The ALA-TOM RC&D grant funds are made available through the state of Alabama, and the support of Sen. Hank Sanders and Reps. Yusuf Salaam and James Thomas.

Billy Atchison, Selma district manager of the Alabama Power Co. and a RC&D Council member, has indicated support for matching the project.

Johnny L. Flowers of Perry County, chairman of the council, said, &uot;These tapes contain very valuable history that must be preserved.&uot;

Accepting the award on behalf of the National Voting Rights Museum, Bland said that the oral history in this collection of tapes tells the remarkable story of people who made history, through their own words, and some have since died.

Not often are such records created she said, which enhances the value of this collection.

Bland said, &uot;I believe this collection is as valuable as the slave narratives which were collected and preserved earlier in the last century.&uot;

Bland expressed gratitude to the RC&D Council for its recognition of the value of these historical records, and also Billy Atchison and Alabama Power for their promise to support it.

The ALA-TOM RC&D Council is a nine-county regional rural development organization. It is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program sponsored by county commissions and soil and water conservation districts.