‘Voices of a People’s History’ dramatization at Shawnee State University

Published 10:08 pm Saturday, September 12, 2009

PORTSMOUTH —Four faculty, student and staff members will perform “Voices of a People’s History: Readings from the WPA Oral Histories” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17 in the Kahl Theater at Shawnee State University’s Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.

The Work Projects Administration (WPA) was from 1936-1940. The program is free and open to the public.

Andrew Feight, associate professor in social studies at SSU, will play the part of one of the Federal Writers Project workers who conducted the interviews.

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“The program is meant to highlight the work of the WPA’s Federal Writers Project that included some 4,000 interviews, including 2,300 that were with African Americans who had been born into slavery,” Feight said.

Eric O’Neil, of South Shore, Ky., will read the part of James Childers who was born and raised in Kentucky on the Ohio River.

Matt Matthews, SSU’s coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, will read the part of Charles Anderson, a former slave who fought in the Union Army during the Civil War and settled in Cincinnati after his emancipation.

Aundrea “Drea” Perkins, SSU student, will play the part of Temple Cummins, a former slave who lived her life in Texas.

Brian Richards, a local poet and adjunct English professor at SSU, will read the part of an anonymous New York street poet-intellectual.

One WPA project, “Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938” at the Library of Congress offers more than 2,300 typewritten narratives comprising more than 9,500 page images with searchable text and bibliographic records, and more than 500 photographs of former slaves with links to their corresponding narratives.

Approximately two hundred of the photographs are in an online collection and have never before been publicly available.

Another project was compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project.