The Black Families of Yalobusha County Oral History Project emerged after Dottie Chapman Reed, Water Valley native, Class of '74, and author of the column “Outstanding Black Women of Yalobusha County” in the North Mississippi Herald, and Jessica Wilkerson, assistant professor of History and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, discussed ways to collaborate.
In the fall semester 2019, Wilkerson and students in her graduate-level oral history methods seminar, SST 560, began working on an oral history project to document the stories of elder African-American men and women in Yalobusha County. In total, they collected nine interviews.
At the end of the semester, students worked the interviews into a script, which they shared with interviewees and community members in an oral history performance at Spring Hill North Missionary Baptist Church in Water Valley, MS. In February 2020, they shared the performance at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.
In the spring 2020, Dr. B. Brian Foster, assistant professor of Sociology and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, took over as director of the project and will collaborate with students and Ms. Reed on its expansion.
Group photo from "Performance: All Our Names Are Freedom" by Kevin Cozart