StoryCorps is a “one of a kind” oral history project and sometimes our participants come up with unique and fun ways to describe what we do. We’ve heard “relationship builder,” “new-age museum,” and even “unique date night.”
Ana Maria and Mario Martinez, however, have labeled StoryCorps “the time capsule,” a snapshot in time or the capture of the essence of a moment to be preserved for discovery in the future. At StoryCorps, the couple excitedly chatted about their sweet 11-month old baby girl, Lily. Their plan is to preserve the CD and play it for Lilly on her 18th birthday.
“We might be the only people who know what we are going to be doing on Nov 28, 2030,” jokes Ana Maria Martinez. “This is just so special to us and I know it’s going to be surreal to listen to our emotions and thoughts after 18 years have passed.” Listen to a portion of Ana Maria’s story here!
Similarly, Kendall Brown jokes, “I will come to StoryCorps as long as it will have [me]!” The three-time StoryCorps veteran comes to StoryCorps Atlanta every year during the same month as a way to document his year-to-year journey. Kendall listens to the previous year’s CD right before coming in to record his next story.
“I was adopted so I feel like I had to create my own history,” says Kendall. “StoryCorps offers me a way to do that and to remember what I’ve learned in a year’s time.” Listen to Kendall’s story here!
We want to YOU to have your own unique way to describe StoryCorps! Book an appointment today. Call our reservation line at 800-850-4406.
It has been an exciting semester for Wendy Adams’ service learning oral history class at The College of Central Florida. The course focused on the art of storytelling, and Wendy used the StoryCorps’ motto, “listening is an act of love,” as the backdrop for their studies.
After practicing with mini-recording sessions in the classroom, ten students, along with Wendy, traveled nearly 6 hours to StoryCorps Atlanta in order to record their own StoryCorps interviews.
“The StoryCorps’ experience enhanced my understanding of my friend Daniel, whom I interviewed. I learned that we have so much in common,” said student Nicole Gomez.
Upon returning to Florida, the students wrote about their experiences for a final assignment. One student provided this insightful reflection:
“I always remind people that I have a horrible memory. That if you tell me something, or want me to do something you need to have me write it down and remind me or I will forget, but when I walked into that soundproof room at StoryCorps, I proved myself wrong. The memories just started to flow, straight from my photographic memory almost playing out like a movie in my head.”
Thanks College of Central Florida for the visit!
When Kimberly Fierra enters a room, her smile precedes her. The bubbly 18-year old came to StoryCorps Atlanta decked out in 6-inch heels, flowing brown hair, and a proud sash that read “Miss Teen GA Latina.” All that was missing was the crown.
As part of StoryCorps’s Historias Initiative, a project which aims to record, share and preserve the stories of Latinos in the United States, StoryCorps Atlanta is partnering with the Miss GA Latina Pageant. Kimberly came in with her friend, Karla Figueroa, to chat about the fascinating world of sashes and crowns.
“Let me tell you– pageants look so easy, but they’re not,” half-jokes Sierra before reflecting. “I can’t believe that I’m representing Latino Americans in the state of Georgia…I want girls to look at me and see that they can do it, too.”(more…)
In December, StoryCorps officially launches the Military Voices Initiative. The Southern Order of Storytellers Southside Chapter shares our passion and commitment to preserve the stories of our veterans. Since April, they have recorded 35 stories in partnership with StoryCorps Atlanta. Veterans from conflicts including World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, OEF and OIF have spent time recording their StoryCorps interview during this partnership. (more…)
For many families living far away from our StoryCorps Atlanta booth, a visit to StoryCorps offers more than the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their story—it’s a chance to pack the family into the car, hit the wide-open road, and travel to our charming Southern city!
Recently, two separate families, the Gardners and the Fortwendels, journeyed 4 and 6 hours, respectively, to make it to the cozy StoryCorps Atlanta Booth. Our team was delighted that their stories were just as fascinating as their journeys.
Charlotte Gardner, affectionately known as “Nana” to her loved ones, traveled from Charlotte, NC to talk with her granddaughter Jeanine about what it was like growing up in Chicago in the 1920′s. She brought with her a stack of colorful, tattered war bonds that her family had in possession from World War II times. (more…)
In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, StoryCorps Atlanta and the Asian-Pacific American Historical Society sponsored a community listening event called APAs Making Waves: Stories about Love, Family, and Identity by Asian-Pacific Americans in the South.
We played eight stories recorded by Asian Americans living in the South. All of these stories were edited by Dana Goldman and have aired on WABE. Several StoryCorps alumni were also in attendance to shared why they came to StoryCorps and what their experience was like. (more…)
To kick off the summer season, two miles of Atlanta, Georgia’s Highland Avenue were shutdown to traffic, and people on bikes, rollerblades, scooters, and on foot enjoyed a lovely day outside. Along the route, there were activities, performances, and food trucks — plus StoryCorps Atlanta! (more…)
StoryCorps Atlanta had the pleasure of hosting students from Girls Inc., a national youth leadership organization dedicated to providing girls a safe space and after-school activities. Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta serves over 3,000 girls, aged six to eighteen, with outreach programs, after-school and summer camp programs, and community partnerships throughout the metro area. Their mission: to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.
Three middle school students embodying these qualities visited our recording booth for the first time. In addition to helping our visitors record stories, StoryCorps volunteer Amelia Bower and I led the girls in listening and storytelling games and gave them a tour of the WABE/PBA studios to meet the staff and learn how public radio and television work. Although uncertain about what to expect, the girls jumped into recording with enthusiasm and curiosity.
Since November 2010, Lambda Legal has partnered with StoryCorps Atlanta to collect the stories of trans and gender non-conforming individuals, people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. To date, 20 people have shared their stories through Lambda Legal’s Trans Tell Your Story Project.
Holiday Simmons, Lambda Legal’s national community educator, travels the country to inform people of LGBTQ issues. In his trainings for law enforcement officers, healthcare providers, and teachers, he uses audio from the Trans Tell Your Story Project to bring voices of trans and gender non-conforming individuals into each session.
Lambda Legal recently hosted an event to share some of the stories they’ve collected and to encourage others to share their own. After listening to excerpts from the conversations, A.J. Jones, the project’s coordinator, invited several participants to share their experiences of recording their stories.
This year, Friendship Baptist Church celebrates its 150th anniversary, and the anniversary committee has been hard at work on sesquicentennial plans, including helping church members pronounce the word that means “150th anniversary.”
The church has come far since its humble beginnings in 1862, when congregants met in a boxcar because they did not have funds to buy land. Both Morehouse and Spelman Colleges held their first classes at Friendship. And Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., was not only raised in the church; his father was one of only six pastors who have served the community in its history.
Many of the church elders remember all of the pastors except the very first, Reverend Frank Quareles, who served until 1881. One important event for the anniversary committee will be the dedication of new tombstones for Reverend Quarles and his wife, whose unmarked graves were discovered at Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery.
The anniversary committee is also collecting oral histories of the church, and Vanessa Brown, a member of the Anniversary Committee, invited church elders to record their memories of Friendship Baptist Church and its leaders with StoryCorps Atlanta. (more…)
To wrap up Black History Month, Monica Foderingham, Outreach Services Librarian for Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, created the Letters To My Grandchildren Project. In partnership with Senior Citizen Services of Merto Atlanta and StoryCorps Atlanta, conversations of African Americans who grew up during segregation and the Civil Rights Movement were recorded for posterity.
On February 28, 100 seniors from Auburn Senior Center, Dogwood Senior Center, Northside Shepherd Senior Center, Southeast Center, and New Horizon Senior Center gathered at the central library to hear twelve storytellers share their experiences.
Before there was the written word, there were oral storytellers, and StoryCorps Atlanta had the pleasure of recording conversations at the National Black Storytelling Conference and Festival held in Atlanta, Georgia.
This recording day was phenomenal. It was an honor to hear amazing stories by professional storytellers and to hear these professionals share the ordinary stories of their lives, the raw human material that StoryCorps knows all too well that has inspired them to make storytelling a way of life. Below are a few highlights.
Barbara Eady and Jacqueline Boyd, both from Ohio, discussed how they began storytelling. Barbara shared a poignant story about an elder mother in her church, who knew her as a child and remembered her many years later when Barbara brought her own children to Sunday service. The elder’s detailed memories of Barbara as a child touched her and has encouraged her work. Today, Barbara is a living vessel of memory and history.
Have you ever heard of the mahasi? What about the clip grip or the rotary creel? These and other unique inventions sprang from the mind of Hans Simon Singer, a weaver who moved from Wattwil, Switzerland to the United States in the early 1960′s. Â He rapidly established himself in the textile industry around Spartanburg, South Carolina, but his most important legacy is the love and family that is still strong today.
Aside from textiles, Hans leaves his legacy in three daughters, all now in their 50′s: Lynmarie Singer Storey is the oldest; Monica Singer Franklin is the middle child; and Susan Singer is the youngest of the family. The sisters met at the Atlanta StoryBooth in November 2011 to mark the 20th anniversary of their father’s death and share their favorite memories of him.
StoryCorps Atlanta set up recording equipment at the Michael A. Grant Boys and Girls Club in Austell, Georgia to record conversations between young men, their families, and mentors through 100 Black Men of North Metro, Inc.
Today, the dropout rate for African-American boys in urban environments can be as high as seventy percent, and more African-American men are incarcerated or in the criminal justice system than were enslaved in 1850. With this in mind, 100 Black Men of America’s national chapters serve a vital role in the African-American community, helping families navigate the challenges posed by neighborhoods burdened with drugs, crime, and scarce resources.
Earlier this year, StoryCorps Atlanta headed to the Mainstreet Community Services Association, Inc. to record the conversations of residents who have staked out their piece of the Mainstreet Community legacy. Community Association Manager Nadine Rivers-Johnson organized a successful on-site recording day in the community’s clubhouse, rolling out the red carpet for the StoryCorps team.
Located less than five miles from the historic Stone Mountain Park, Dekalb County’s Mainstreet Community is a residential community that was developed based on the tenets of the Greenpeace Movement of the early 1970′s. Today, the Mainstreet Community vigorously guards its proud heritage even as it charts a new path into the twenty-first century.
On the eve of the fifteenth anniversary of Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride weekend, StoryCorps Atlanta partnered with the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History to host, Pride and Community: Preserving the Black LGBTQ Experience. Since opening its recording booth in Atlanta two years ago, StoryCorps Atlanta has captured and archived hundreds of stories from the African-American community, and many of the participants who have come into the booth are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or queer. This evening was an opportunity to celebrate the lives and stories of Atlanta’s Black LGBTQ community and discuss why it’s important for its members to preserve their stories.
When Hillery Rink booked a StoryCorps appointment to talk with his partner Sean Rindge about how they met, little did he know that the two would help StoryCorps Atlanta mark an important occasion, also: the 1,000th interview in our booth at WABE.
Hillery had two strong reasons for wanting to visit StoryCorps. “I wanted to document some of our stories for us to have when we got older and our memories started getting foggy. I also felt it was important for people to hear that how two gay men met and started their life-long relationship isn’t that different from how millions of straight people do the same thing.”
Sean, his partner, told us, “I was intrigued, albeit a bit hesitant, by Hillery’s suggestion to do the interview. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to talk for the full length of the time, but we know how that turned out.” The pair talked for 40 minutes and covered events from just their first few years together.
Sean had made personal recordings of his grandmother several years ago, and “the response from the family who got recorded copies of our talk was overwhelming.” This time, too, family and friends have requested copies of their StoryCorps CD, which Hillery and Sean plan to share. Says Sean, “It really is true that everyone has something to say, and it isn’t just our established writers who should have a lock on it.” Hillery adds, “In this sometimes contentious culture we live in now, I think it is important to remind each other of how we all are much more alike than we are different. StoryCorps is a great way for us to spread that word.”
When the Druid Hills High School class of 1986 celebrated its 25th reunion this summer, I invited several of my classmates to record their memories with StoryCorps Atlanta. We grew up in Atlanta in the ’70′s and ’80′s, so one unique aspect of our educational experience was being the first generation of children in the South whose schools were fully integrated. Because of an elective transfer program, our schools were approximately 50% Black and 50% white, from 1st grade through our senior year.
In his interview with fellow classmate Jim Ostrowski, Roland Dawkins remembered that in 1986, “Druid Hills was predominantly white, very affluent, highly educated, but also a very liberal and Democratic portion of Atlanta. At that time, I lived literally on the other side of town, and the (integration) program, “Majority to Minority” was in its heyday. I had to take a bus, actually a couple of buses, for an hour and a half. Eventually it got tiresome, but by then all my friends went to the school I went to.”
Jim, who was our senior class president, added that it was, “something way out of the ordinary for that neighborhood, at that time, but it all seemed to work pretty well.” They talked about how he and Roland, with all their differences, “were the bridge between cliques, we were the bridge between races, between socioeconomic stratuses.” Their friendship has lasted more than 30 years.
On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, StoryCorps Atlanta headed into the heart of downtown Atlanta to record at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. The recordings, an effort on behalf of the Foundation to collect stories from some of its veteran staff, donors, and participants in its Neighborhood Fund and AIDS Partnership Fund, were inspiring and heartfelt.Arlene Parker Goldson and her friend Mattice Haynes, talked about how they got involved with The Community Foundation and the work they do as community coaches. They work one on one with community residents and grassroots leaders on various community-based projects that are funded by the Neighborhood Fund. Arlene and Mattice not only shared what they are able to help communities achieve, but also what they learn from the communities and individuals with whom they work. For Arlene, one of the things about which she is happiest is that she gets to meet so many people. “I mean great spirit, great energy, great passion. So, I’ve met so many people who don’t mirror me–because I don’t think you grow that way–but give me an opportunity to grow and stretch.”
Immigration has been all over the news, especially here in Georgia, but it’s not every day that we hear the voices of immigrant sharing their own stories. On May 24, StoryCorps Atlanta hosted a public listening event at the Auburn Avenue Research Library to share the stories of Atlantans who immigrated to the United States.
A number of StoryCorps alumni were invited to share their stories and to talk about why they came to StoryCorps. (Use the links to listen to their stories online.)
Theresa Nguyen came to the United States after the fall of Saigon. She and her daughter, Stephanie, described how the intimate conversation they had at StoryCorps has helped bring them closer.
Sara Takele fled her home country of Ethiopia decades ago. She has spent more than twenty years now navigating this country, not only as an immigrant, but as the mother of a special-needs son. After playing her story, Sara explained she thinks it’s important to speak out as a mother of a son with autism. (more…)