Black Carolinians Speak

This this is an especially difficult period for all residents of our state. African Americans, as reported in state and national media, have been disproportionately impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying social and economic distress it has caused. The pandemic has also exacerbated existing inequalities and disparities in education, health, and employment. Future generations will likely seek to understand how this global pandemic redefined what it meant to be Black in North Carolina and how the crisis altered the rhythms and traditions of African American life in North Carolina.

The goal of this initiative—Black Carolinians Speak: Portraits of a Pandemic—is to gather first person testimonies, letters, music, images, art and other documents that capture the experiences of African Americans in North Carolina during the global pandemic of 2020. Unlike earlier pandemics, such as the 1918 Spanish Flu, we have a unique opportunity to share and preserve stories documenting how African Americans in North Carolina lived, connected, loved, found hope, and survived a public health crisis.

What effect has this pandemic had on your personal life, family, business, church, organization, or community? What feelings are you experiencing? How have these changes affected your political or economic outlook? How have you or others in your community showed resourcefulness or learned new skills as you have adjusted to the crisis? What advice would you give to others who may face similar crises?

Feel free to use these questions as prompts for your response. Such insights are essential to creating a powerful narrative of how African Americans in North Carolina experienced this historic moment. Please share your experiences with us so we can preserve and share them with future generations.

This work is supported by the 1772 Foundation and presented by the NC African American Heritage Commission, the State Archives of North Carolina, and the WeGOJA Foundation.

Ways to share your story:

Tab/Accordion Items

Journals, diaries, and reflections of how people’s lives have been impacted by current events. Subjects can range from impacts on employment, leisure, social activities, education, businesses, relationships, mental and public health, civic activities, or religious activities.

Photographs documenting the effects of social distancing; protests; civic engagement; shortages of supplies; healthcare workers; social media campaigns to boost community spirits, such as teddy bears in windows or chalk drawings on sidewalks; and empty sports arenas, churches, movie theaters, and other places for gathering; etc.

Audiovisual materials document the personal and economic impact including images and sound and film recordings such as home movies. These might include videos of life out in supermarkets, curbside pickup, downtowns with no one around, or short audio and/or video accounts recorded on a cell phone.

Ephemera, such as signage about store closures or shortages of supplies; documents received by mail that relate to current events; modified take-out menus; home lesson plans; changes in store ads; event announcements; programs; invitations; and bulletins; etc.

Oral histories document an aspect of how current events have changed the lives and/or work of every North Carolinian. Special areas of focus may be healthcare, protests, service industries, government services, law enforcement, and education, but we want to interview you about your specific experiences during this crisis.

PLEASE NOTE: We are not accepting oral histories conducted by outside groups or individuals at this time, but if you would like to submit a short audio or video account, please visit the Audiovisual Materials tab or web page for more information.

To find out more about our oral history program or to express an interest in being interviewed remotely or in person at a later date, please contact

Important Notes

North Carolina Connection: Items must have a strong connection to North Carolina or a North Carolinian to be accepted into our collection. We do not accept copies or material under copyright to people other than the donor. We do not accept materials that are duplicated in other repositories. Furthermore, by donating materials you are signing over copyright to the State Archives of North Carolina.

Save Non-Digital Items for Later: Physical items cannot be collected while our facilities are closed, and we do not want to take items that are still in use, so we ask you to save these materials for future collection, but record and submit information about them now.

File Formats: If you can't create or send materials in the formats on the right, we may still be able to collect your items. Please let us know what formats your items are saved in.

Disclaimer: All donations are subject to review. Because of the overwhelming response to our request for material, and other considerations, we may not be able to accept all donations. If that is the case we will try to recommend another home for your material.

Other Limitations: We will accept material submitted by minors (under 18) as long as we have sign-off from a parent or guardian. We do not accept materials that may contain PII (Personally Identifiable Information), such as medical information; anything that contains profanity; or anything with graphic (sexual or violent) content. Currently we are not accepting material that is accessed online, such as blog posts, Facebook posts, or podcasts, but we will accept static versions of anything not under copyright or available through other means.

Learn More: You can also learn about this project on the NC African American Heritage Commission website.

Preferred Formats

  • Text Documents: .pdf, .doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt, .csv
  • Photos: .jpg, .tif • Videos: .avi, .mp4, .mp2, .mov, .wmv, .mxf, .ogg, .mkv
  • Sound Files: .wav, .aif, .aiff, .mid, .midi, .wma, .mp3, .m4a

Learn more about archival file formats.