In honor of Black History Month, the Google Cultural Institute is showcasing 80 online exhibits from museums and cultural centers across the nation. Exhibit topics span from Martin Luther King Jr. to the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and even includes one on African Americans at UNCG.

UNCG was one of only two universities selected by the nonprofit arm of Google to participate in the project.

“Google actually contacted me,” said Richard Cox, a digital technology consultant in University Libraries.

They initially asked if UNCG could put together an exhibit on Professor Emeritus Dr. Loren Schweninger’s Digital Library on American Slavery, but the in-depth index is text heavy and doesn’t include many photos.

“They wanted something more visual,” Cox said.

After some brainstorming, Google Cultural Institute approved the exhibit on African Americans at UNCG.

UNCG’s exhibit weaves together photos, documents, handwritten letters and oral interviews to tell the stories of African Americans on campus from its earliest days through 1971. It was compiled by the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives.

“African Americans at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1892-1971” starts with campus’ earliest employees. It goes on to look at the first students after the university desegregated in 1956, and touches on the students’ Tate Street desegregation movement.

“These people were integral in keeping the university going, but they were never in the spotlight,” said University Archivist Erin Lawrimore. “You have to do a lot of digging to find them.”

With its placement on the Google Cultural Institute’s website, the exhibit showcases UNCG and its history to a national and international audience.

“The exhibit shows the breadth of the resources we have and the things we can do in University Libraries,” Cox said.

The best part about the exhibit, Lawrimore says is telling the story of transformation and change throughout the years.

“I think the oral history clips add a lot. I think they add a lot to the overall story. They help personalize it,” she said.

“Our students don’t realize how recent these events were. These were students that were doing big and important things,” Lawrimore added.

The message for UNCG students today?

“You can do big things too,” she said.

UNCG’s exhibit can be found on the Google Cultural Institute’s website and on University Libraries’ website as well.

 

Story by Jeanie Groh, University Relations.
Photography courtesy of University Archives.