Doors open to write erased history, preserve legacies of Black Iberians
The Iberia African American Historical Society Center for Research and Learning opens in Lafayette's Shadows Visitors Center
The Iberia African American Historical Society Center for Research and Learning has opened on the second floor of The Shadows Visitors Center, 317 W. Main Street, New Iberia, LA.
Visitors gathered Monday, Nov. 21, for the grand opening and tour.
“To a packed room, we shared our vision for the center and our expectation that it will positively impact Iberia Parish for generations to come,” said Phoebe Hayes, former dean, College of General Studies at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Hayes founded the Iberia African American Historical Society in 2017 to research, educate, and commemorate the history of African Americans in Iberia Parish. The Society has hosted educational lectures; published a journal, books, and articles; created an online database of Iberia’s Black Civil War veterans with their names and regimental affiliations; installed historical markers throughout Iberia Parish honoring the contributions of local Black Americans; and archived the Ebony Journal, Iberia’s sole Black newspaper.
Through partnerships with The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Shadows On the Teche, The UL Guilbeaux Center for Public History, and the Ernest J. Gaines Center, the Iberia African American Historical Society can now provide a space for guests to freely conduct research using the society’s digitized primary source records, historical images, and recordings.
Highlights of the historical society’s collections include pension records of local veterans of the United States Colored Troops who served during the Civil War; local plantation records that document the lives of Africans and Black Americans who labored on those local plantations prior to the Civil War and afterward; images and records of 19th and early 20th century Black American politicians, public servants, and professionals of Iberia Parish; 19th century records of Reconstruction-era local Black American churches, and images from private family collections.
The collection also houses archives of The Ebony Journal, Iberia Parish's first Black-owned newspaper since Reconstruction, which was founded in 1985 by Elaine Campbell, an educator.
Following the opening ceremony, Hayes thanked Jordan Richardson, program coordinator; Pat Kahle, interim executive director; Jayd Buteau, marketing and publicity director of The Shadows-on-the-Teche; Megan Wittenberg, UL public history graduate student; Breighlyn Monet, Kennesaw State University History graduate student; and four Iberia Parish high school interns who have worked hard to make this center a reality. For more, visit https://iaahs.org