Next Saturday, February 23, my Creative Writing students and students from our school’s Photography magnet will be at the Newtown Community Center in north Montgomery to collect stories and images from the Newtown community. The event will be from 9:00 AM ’til 12:00 noon. The project is funded by an honorable mention grant from the Alabama Bicentennial committee.
The historically black Newtown community, situated near Cypress Nature Park, was partially documented in the mid-1960s by Southern Courier photographer Jim Peppler, whose collection is now held at the Alabama Department of Archives & History. However, since the 1960s, the community has struggled with a lack of development opportunities that have enhanced and expanded other parts of the city. One December 2018 news article explained that residents’ water had been running brown for years.
Unfortunately, the history of Newtown has also not been well-documented, and through this student project, we hope not only to make progress toward that goal, but also to connect dozens of Montgomery students to an often-neglected aspect of our local history. In addition to preparations that have already been made, our students will visit the Archives next week to survey Peppler’s photos and learn more about Newtown prior to the Saturday oral history event.
If you or anyone you know would like to contribute to their stories and images to the collection, please come to the community center on Saturday morning, February 23. Stories told by residents will be recorded digitally in order to be archived and shared through scholarly online databases, and photographs and other physical items will be either scanned or photographed and returned. No items or photos will be kept, and no images or stories will be sold. This project is a not-for-profit education and preservation effort to ensure that the Newtown community is accurately portrayed through stories and images from residents who have lived there.
For more information, see the flyer below: