Mountain Heritage Center exhibit on African-American community, music

Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center, in partnership with One Dozen Who Care, will host a display on the cultural history and musical traditions of the region’s African-American community that will later be presented in neighboring towns as a traveling exhibit.

“When All God’s Children Get Together” is currently open in the center’s exhibit space on the second floor of Hunter Library. Curated by Ann Miller Woodford, an author and founder of the community development organization One Dozen Who Care, the exhibit looks at the role of church, spiritual music and hymns in the African-American population in Western North Carolina.

The exhibit is based on Woodford’s book of the same name, which examines musical traditions of African-Americans as practiced at home, work, churches and schools. The Andrews native has conducted extensive research, historical documentation and interviews on African-American history, life and traditions in the mountains.

In three towns — Sylva, Murphy and Waynesville — the traveling exhibit will coincide with an evening weekend program of traditional music by gospel groups, community singing and dinners on the ground. The first event occurred in Sylva on Feb. 19. Arrangements for the Murphy and Waynesville events, as well as other venues throughout 2017, are currently being scheduled by Woodford and center staff.

February is Black History Month, with WCU holding numerous events and special activities. Development of the “When All God’s Children Get Together” exhibit was assisted by WCU public history students and Andrew Denson, associate professor of history. 

The project is supported by funding from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the North Carolina Humanities Council and the Cherokee County Arts Council.

The Mountain Heritage Center gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call the museum at 828.227.7129.

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