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'Local Black Histories:' New virtual project tells untold stories of Greater Williamsburg area

The interactive website, which launched Sunday, features oral histories of Black descendants, curated exhibits and more.

A new, interactive platform uncovers the rich history of the Black community in the Greater Williamsburg area. 

The Local Black Histories Project launched Sunday. 

The project is spearheaded by the Village Initiative for Education Equity, a non-profit focusing on equity in education. The College of William & Mary and Williamsburg-James City County are also partners. 

Jacqueline Bridgeforth Williams, The Village founder, describes the platform as a 'virtual museum.' 

It features stories told by Black descendants, films, community forums and curated exhibits on the history of Williamsburg and James City County. 

The project centers around the roles and accounts of Black descendants, whose ancestors' stories "have often been neglected or narrated by those who did not live these histories," according to its website. 

"I want everyone especially Black people to know who we are to know our history," said Bridgeforth Williams. 

Williamsburg is the birthplace of one of the oldest known Black churches in the country, the Historic First Baptist Church of Williamsburg. 

The church was formed in 1776, and in October, experts confirmed the discovery of the congregation's first permanent structure in the early 1800s.  

Creators of the Local Black Histories Project desired to provide teachers resources to share the history of Black people in the area, as well as share their stories with the community. 

Bridgeforth Williams says she's envisioned the project since she was a child growing up listening to oral histories. 

"It's important because now everyone will get to be apart of or hear the struggles and the contributions of all people," said Bridgeforth Williams. "The Black Histories Project is our greatest gift we The Village Initiative are giving to our community, our school children. We hope to inspire future generations to continue to tell the stories." 

The website launched Sunday night during a special online ceremony. 

If you'd like to learn about or explore The Local Black Histories Project, click here. 

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