Cornelius resident Chip Dolfi was producing a black-interest television show in Pittsburgh when he met a man who had boxes of old newspapers collected over the years. The rest is, well, history – compiled in the African-American Historical News Journal, to be precise. The 64-page book documents 178 years of history through digitized copies of the actual historical newspaper articles – dating from 1778 and the slavery era, to 1956 and the beginning of the modern-day Civil Rights Movement. Dolfi says the book, published in 2005, is now used by organizations all over the country, from school districts (including Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools) to museums to libraries to the Smithsonian Institution.
On how the book is used: We are used in history, social studies and civics classes. This year, we’ve been included in literature and English classes. This came about because we started to highlight and define vocabulary words.
On how people react to the book: The most amazing thing to me is the impact the journal makes on those who read the articles. Because the information is not widely known, it is a brand new perspective on the history they thought they knew. It never ceases to cause me pause when I see the reaction of people when they start to read the articles. Many folks are really moved by the content. Reading it has been for many people, life-altering.
On his favorite article: There is an article on page 19 that speaks of an African-American man who “appropriates” a 147-foot Confederate boat and delivers it to the Union Navy, who in turn used it against the Confederates to take the port of Beaufort, S.C. Two years later, the man was awarded the boat, along with a contract to transport troops as payment for his deed.
What’s next? We are hoping to do additional volumes on: women in history; military heroes; entrepreneurs and inventors; politicians; and educators. There are so many interesting articles to read, so many interesting people to get to know and so many interesting stories that need to be heard.
Learn more about the African-American Historical News Journal ($20 soft cover, $35 hardback) here.