Virginia Western, Harrison Museum to host special event beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 Virginia Western Community College and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture invite the public to attend a special presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 10, by author Linda Hervieux about her new book, Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War. The event will be held at the Harrison Museum in downtown Roanoke’s Center in the Square, beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and followed by Hervieux’s talk at 6:15 p.m. A veteran from the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion will join Hervieux. The Harrison Museum requests a $20 donation for guests attending; college students with a valid student ID will be admitted free.
Published by Harper Collins on Oct. 27, Forgotten is the story of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions on D-Day have gone unrecognized to the present. In this extraordinary blend of military and social history, Hervieux brings to life the injustices of 1940s Jim Crow America and finally pays tribute to the valor of these brave young men.
Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, Forgotten tells the tale of these heroic men whose contributions to one of the most extraordinary missions in modern history have been overlooked. Like thousands of other African Americans, members of the 320th—Wilson Monk, a jack-of-all-trades from Atlantic City; Henry Parham, a bus porter who fled Virginia’s sharecropping country; William Dabney, an eager seventeen- year-old army volunteer from Roanoke; and Samuel Mattison, a charming romantic from Columbus, Ohio—were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied them at home.
In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedoms they had not known in a homeland that treated them as second-class citizens, and they would carry these experiences back to America, to fuel the budding civil rights movement.
Hervieux has written more about the 320th men at www.lindahervieux.com, which has a page devoted to each man she tracked down. A video trailer featuring the men is at: https://youtu.be/e73e26_qcQ8.
Over the last twenty years Sarah Hazlegrove’s Tobacco People project has sent the Roanoke based photographer around the world. What began as a distinctly personal project recording the small community of people that had grown up around the production of tobacco on her family’s farm in Prince Edward County Virginia has grown into an epic journey documenting the myriad communities of people cultivating and processing the leaf across three continents. One constant and enduring theme of the project is the dramatically changing but always central role that Africans and people of African descent have played in the commercial production of tobacco for the last 400 years, Tobacco People: Africa and the Americas, at the Harrison Museum of African American Culture combines the artists images of workers from Africa, Brazil, Cuba, and the United States with historical research to explore the complicated relationship between Africa, the Americas, and tobacco. From Malawi to Alagoas, Brazil to Rocky Mount in Virginia, the photos and videos document the descendants of the diaspora that dispersed Africans across the colonial world. While the exhibit raises difficult and sometimes painful historical issues, at its center is the story of Malawi in southeast Africa and the Witcher farm in Franklin County. Hazlegrove’s images of the individuals and families that make up these communities explore and illustrate the increasing African and African American control and ownership of agriculture and commerce that they can now claim as their own.