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Nothing Without Our History

Esphur Foster, Interviewed by Hudson Vaughan

Hello followers!  My name is Joe, and I work at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center.  We are a center for oral history and advocacy for a safe and friendly family-oriented historic neighborhood in the Northside community of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  This blog will be an outlet for some of us here to post audio clips, photographs, pieces of transcriptions, and periodic reflections from the archives and happenings at the Jackson Center.  I hope you enjoy what is to come and can apply what we will share to your own history.  For as Marian Jackson says, “without the past, we have no future.”

Here, Esphur Foster opens with, “if you don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where you’re going.”  No matter how this is worded or phrased, I think its meaning is so crucial to the way we live.  Our histories are not just where we come from.  They shape who we are and who we will become.  Our histories are the backbones for the relationships we build, the views we profess, the people we admire, and the people we aspire to be.  Our histories are family, love, and community.  

I am a first-year, out-of-state student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and as I’ve said, I work at the Jackson Center.  Within the first couple months of going to school, I was fine being independent and building a life away from my family.  However, immediately thereafter, something was missing from my daily thoughts and emotions.  I couldn’t express it, and did not understand this vacancy I constantly felt.  After working with the Jackson Center for some time, I began to comprehend what was happening.  I met many families, fought for them in local politics, and formed some bonds that are already beginning to be prosperous and loving.  It wasn’t too long until I began to learn what history means to the people of Northside: our histories are home.  I don’t need my family and friends constantly by my side to be home.  What I need is knowing that the people who have influenced me always have my back, knowing that the events that have opened my eyes keep them open and clear, knowing that everything I have gone through and pushed for is my home.  I’ll always be home, wherever I am, because of my history.  I just need to remember and understand the past, and look to the future.

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