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Foxfire Oral Histories, 2014

2015 August 18

We are happy to announce a new partnership with the Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center, and to present a new collection of oral history interviews about Appalachian folk traditions and music,  Foxfire Oral Histories, 2014. The oral history interviews in this collection were conducted for Foxfire’s fiftieth anniversary book, which will be made available in 2016.

The Foxfire Fund grew out of a 1966 freshman English class project at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School to create Foxfire magazine, based on student interviews of community elders that documented the rich folk culture of Rabun County, Georgia. By 1972, the magazine was anthologized in books published by Doubleday. The Foxfire program was ultimately moved to Rabun County High School in 1977. Kaye Collins, a former Foxfire student, staff member, and now board member of the Foxfire Community Board and Foxfire Board of Directors informs us that “the students handle all aspects of the Foxfire magazine production. The best of those interviews are put in the Foxfire books.” Barry Stiles, curator of the Foxfire Museum, notes that “Foxfire students have been conducting interviews for almost fifty years now. It will be fifty years in 2016.”

Beyond its importance chronicling Southern Appalachia, the Foxfire Fund, Inc. has been instrumental in exposing the student-empowered, community-focused Foxfire Approach to Teaching and Learning to educators that investigates relationships between teachers, learners, and their curriculum. The Foxfire Approach has provided an integrative learning environment for students to study required material, to use their surrounding community as a resource to facilitate learning, and to connect their efforts to an audience beyond the classroom.

Collins’ favorite interviews in the Foxfire Oral Histories, 2014 collection are “all of them!” though she does specifically mention the interview with Beanie Ramey, a native of Tiger, Georgia, who recalls local history in Clayton County. Collins also admires Blairsville soapmakers T. J. and Jenny Stevens , who “are inspiring in their work ethic and lives,” states that master cornshuck doll maker Beth Kelley Zorbanos is “also a great philosopher,” and comments that folk artist Eric Legge “is an artist genius and has a great sense of humor!” Stiles, who has “a great fondness for the guitar” loves the interviews with bluegrass musician Curtis Blackwell (where Blackwell talks about learning to play guitar and playing with the Dixie Bluegrass Boys) and guitar maker Danny White (who discusses the wood and other material he uses to make different parts of the guitars, the merits of custom-built guitars over mass-produced ones and the difficulties in building mandolins).

We hope that you are able to take the time to enjoy these oral history interviews and experience the unique methods Foxfire has developed to preserve Southern Appalachian folk traditions, and to engage students with active learning opportunities outside of traditional teaching spaces.

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Remembering Julian Bond

2015 August 17
by Mandy Mastrovita
Julian Bond, politician, at press conference with reporter Eleanor Shano. Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project. Carnegie Museum of Art.

Julian Bond, politician, at press conference with reporter Eleanor Shano. Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project. Carnegie Museum of Art.

The Digital Library of Georgia remembers the life of activist, politician, writer, and educator Julian Bond who passed away Sunday at the age of 75.

As a student at Morehouse College in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bond co-organized the the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights, a civil rights group that successfully desegregated Atlanta’s public facilities. In 1960, Bond became a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), where he served as the organization’s communications director, and participated in southern voter registration drives. Bond later served in the Georgia House of Representatives for four terms (1967-1974) and then in the Georgia Senate for six terms (1975-1987). He was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a position he held from 1971 to 1979.  After leaving the Georgia Senate, Bond served as a distinguished professor in residence at American University and as a faculty member in the history department at the University of Virginia. From 1998 to 2010, Bond was chairperson of the NAACP.

The Civil Rights Digital Library provides access to numerous resources featuring Julian Bond at http://crdl.usg.edu/people/b/bond_julian_1940/ .

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