At an NAACP Berkshire County Branch meeting in late 2015 or early 2016, someone raised the issue that there were many members who were getting on in years with lots of memories and wouldn’t it be a good idea to capture these memories on tape. Member Len Kates immediately offered to take on this project.
As the planning progressed and Len was seeking support for the work, he contacted Judith Monachina at the Oral HIstory Center at Berkshire Community College. Together, with help from many others, they identified folks to interview and began interviews in November 2016. They carried out interviews over the next two years.
In 2018 the Berkshire Museum joined the collaboration and mounted the exhibit Their Stories: Oral Histories from the NAACP from February through May 2019.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020 and the murder of George Floyd in June 2020 which sparked renewed interest in and support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Museum created a virtual version of the exhibit. This virtual version opened on October 2, 2020 headlined by a discussion – Sharing Stories: The Importance of Oral Histories and Listening in These Unprecedented Times – featuring Judith Monachia, Len Kates, and Dennis Powell, NAACP Berkshire County branch president and a person included in the exhibit.
Use the link below to view the discussion and to tour the virtual exhibit.