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Winston-Salem's African American Legacy

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Winston-Salem was created in 1913 when the City of Winston and the Town of Salem merged. Salem was established in 1766 by the Moravian Church as a devout religious community. The county seat of Winston was formed out of Salem in 1849. African Americans had no voice in the consolidation; however, these descendants of slaves built a legacy in a "separate and unequal" municip Winston-Salem was created in 1913 when the City of Winston and the Town of Salem merged. Salem was established in 1766 by the Moravian Church as a devout religious community. The county seat of Winston was formed out of Salem in 1849. African Americans had no voice in the consolidation; however, these descendants of slaves built a legacy in a "separate and unequal" municipality in the 20th century. The thriving tobacco industry delivered swift progress for African Americans in the Twin City, placing them on the level of the "Black Wall Street" cities in the South. Slater Industrial Academy (now Winston-Salem State University) provided the educational foundation. WAAA radio gave the community an active voice in 1950. Winston-Salem's African American Legacy showcases the significant contributions through the lens of the city's historical cultural institutions.


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Winston-Salem was created in 1913 when the City of Winston and the Town of Salem merged. Salem was established in 1766 by the Moravian Church as a devout religious community. The county seat of Winston was formed out of Salem in 1849. African Americans had no voice in the consolidation; however, these descendants of slaves built a legacy in a "separate and unequal" municip Winston-Salem was created in 1913 when the City of Winston and the Town of Salem merged. Salem was established in 1766 by the Moravian Church as a devout religious community. The county seat of Winston was formed out of Salem in 1849. African Americans had no voice in the consolidation; however, these descendants of slaves built a legacy in a "separate and unequal" municipality in the 20th century. The thriving tobacco industry delivered swift progress for African Americans in the Twin City, placing them on the level of the "Black Wall Street" cities in the South. Slater Industrial Academy (now Winston-Salem State University) provided the educational foundation. WAAA radio gave the community an active voice in 1950. Winston-Salem's African American Legacy showcases the significant contributions through the lens of the city's historical cultural institutions.

5 review for Winston-Salem's African American Legacy

  1. 4 out of 5

    robin friedman

    African American Winston-Salem In Images Of America Located in Forsyth County in northwestern North Carolina, Winston-Salem was formed in 1913 from the consolidation of the city of Winston and the town of Salem. The city has a long, thriving African American community which prospered through its own initiatives and through the economic opportunity offered by the tobacco industry. Cheryl Street Harry, a cultural curator at Old Salem Museum and Gardens, offers a photographic history of the Winston- African American Winston-Salem In Images Of America Located in Forsyth County in northwestern North Carolina, Winston-Salem was formed in 1913 from the consolidation of the city of Winston and the town of Salem. The city has a long, thriving African American community which prospered through its own initiatives and through the economic opportunity offered by the tobacco industry. Cheryl Street Harry, a cultural curator at Old Salem Museum and Gardens, offers a photographic history of the Winston-Salem African American community in her book "Winston-Salem's African American Legacy" (2012). Her book is part of the Images of America series of photographic histories of local American communities. Harry's book describes the growth of Winston-Salem's African American community from the early nineteenth to the end of the twentieth century. The book is deeply oriented towards specific people and specific local cultural institutions and thus includes many photographs of individuals and of members of community organizations. The individuals in the photos are frequently named one by one and then the purpose of the organization, if a group picture, is briefly explained and described. The book gives a feeling of closeness and individuality for the people making up the community and it encourages community members justly to take pride in their accomplishments and those of their neighbors. In some places, interested readers who lack a close familiarity with Winston-Salem might have learned more from a broader-based approach with more photographs of places and a more extended discussion of historical background. The middle chapters of the book do offer something of a historical account. Harry presents photographs of some early African American communities and their pioneering residents. Even here, the book shifts quickly to a discussion of reunion efforts among contemporary descendants of the historic communities rather than fleshing out these fascinating communities in more detail. The various chapters of the book show the Winston-Salem African American community's large achievements in education (including an early woman PhD in mathematics), theater, literature, music, radio and communication, social empowerment, business, and more. For example, I learned about George Black, the son of a former slave, who became renowned for his ability to make bricks and founded his own company. I learned about the doo-wop group the Five Royales who recorded a classic song "Dedicated to the one I love" before it was covered and became a large hit for the Shirelles. In 2015, the Five Royales were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The book also taught me about Armenta Adams Hummings a renowned classical pianist. In 1993, Hummings founded and directed the Gateways Music Festival to increase the visibility of African American classical musicians. The Festival still takes place but has moved to Rochester, New York. Many inspiring photos in this book document the high cultural and civic accomplishment of Winston-Salem's African American community over the years. The book also describes the role of Winston-Salem's African American community in the Civil Rights Movement, focusing on the early lunch counter sit-in movement in February, 1960. There are discussions of Dr Martin Luther King Jr's visit to Winston-Salem and of the sometimes overlooked role of the Black Panthers in providing economic assistance to the poor. The book is a reminder that the Civil Rights Movement was a product of strong local community leadership as well as of national leadership. A final section of the book describes the prominent role of religion in community life with an emphasis on the social activism that supported and followed the Civil Rights Movement. In his Foreword to the book, Winston-Salem Pastor Dr. Sir Walter Mack Jr. eloquently observes: "The spirit of this book is marked by the faith of people to succeed and achieve in the areas of the arts, athletics, education, business, medicine, music, manufacturing, spirituality, economics, and political and civic leadership." Dr. Mack continues: "Although the primary focus of this book is the African American community, the knowledge, wisdom, and information gained from this pictorial collage are significant to any community that is serious about valuing the journey and the story of people." I enjoyed visiting and learning about Winston-Salem and its African American community through this book. The book tells an inspiring story and shows the importance of a spirit of community and loyalty in the development of life for all in the United States. Robin Friedman

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charlene Grooms

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erika

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Watts

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

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