For Black History Month
Visit Special February Exhibit “UNBURIED” in the McRitchie-Hollis courtyard
In the 19th century, People of Color comprised half of Newnan’s population.
Overwhelmingly, their names, stories, and grave sites are lost forever.
A program presented by Newnan-Coweta Historical Society Tuesday evening Feb. 13 at McRitchie-Hollis Museum invited attendees to help remember some of those early Cowetans. Christine B. Arinze-Samuel, better known to audiences as “Sistah Olufemi,” brought her individual style of storytelling for the unveiling of the NCHS’s new outdoor exhibit, “UNBURIED.”
“Unfortunately, most of the stories of the thousands of People of Color who lived in early Newnan are gone forever,” said Newnan-Coweta Historical Society Executive Director W. Jeff Bishop, who curated the new exhIbit. “Even though they provided the labor that built the local infrastructure, including the roads and railroads, and fueled the South’s agricultural economic engine, People of Color were intentionally left out of our history books, excluded from our cemeteries, and generally erased from the public record, and therefore from public memory.”
“We are trying, the best we can at this late date, to restore those stories and fill that void in our collective narrative,” Bishop said.
“UNBURIED” is one small step in that direction, Bishop said. He consulted local history books, antebellum newspapers, old court cases, tax records, diaries, government documents, and other sources to piece together stories from this important period in Coweta County’s history.
Tour the new outdoor exhibit and learn the forgotten stories of some of the slaves who lived in the Newnan and Coweta County community and helped to build it. Bishop printed the gathered stories and presented them as laminated pages to be held and read by exhibit viewers.
Throughout the Black History Month observance during February, visitors to McRitchie-Hollis Museum are also invited to participate by touching the stones in the exhibit, which are inscribed with the names of these early residents, and “leave behind something in memory,” using shells, stones, and other items that are provided.