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oral histories of the American South

A guide to images used in the "Oral Histories of the American South" collection

Image for the Introductory Section

The staff of the Southern Oral History Program has collected thousands of interviews from people who have witnessed firsthand the transformation of the American South. The earliest interviews took place in 1973, but topics span the entirety of the 20th century.

Image for the Charlotte Section

School busing became an issue that galvanized opposition to segregation. At West Charlotte High School, busing was of central importance in the debate over desegregation. The Charlotte interviews highlight the challenges that faced African American and white students as they responded to the integration of schools and traditions.

Image for the Civil Rights Section

Prospect Cleaners was a thriving, black-owned business in Jacksonville when this photo was taken around 1948. The Civil Rights Movement laid the foundations for the expanding influence of African Americans not only in business, but in all parts of American society. Interviews with observers and members of the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina and the greater South can be found in this collection.

Image for the Environmental Transformations Section

Residents of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, attempt to salvage their home, devastated by the floods that followed Hurricane Floyd. Floyd left its mark not just on the coast, but also on inland North Carolina. Tens of thousands of Carolinians who lived near creeks and rivers were affected as flooding severely damaged their homes and possessions.

Image for the Piedmont Industrialization Section

Economic opportunity and growth have changed the face of many parts of North Carolina and the South, leading to dramatic changes in demographic patterns, communities, and families. Part of this process included the vast expansion of roads and highways in the state. This expansion was a boon to business, but it also irrevocably altered the rural landscape in many parts of North Carolina.

Image for the Southern Politics Section

Politicians, activists and community leaders at a variety of levels of grass-roots organizations and government talk about the political forces that have shaped the modern South. The momentum of the Civil Rights Movement propelled African Americans into positions held previously only by whites, deepening the impact of the economic, social, and political change sweeping the South.

Image for the Southern Women Section

In government, universities, business, factories, and in the struggle for gender and race equality, women played an increasing and invaluable role over the course of the 20th century in the evolution of the South.

Image for the Index Pages

Social, political, and economic disparities have been pivotal issues in the emergence of the modern American South. Despite the profound advances made during the Civil Rights Movement, many of these inequities still persist into this new century.