The New College Institute (NCI) held a viewing of the educational movie “Once Upon a Time: A Village on Fayette,” in partnership with the Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI) on Feb. 21.
FAHI Executive Director DeShanta Hairston said the movie underscored “why the Fayette area is so important to not only the black community in this area but to the entire community, and the impact that it made in the establishment of what Martinsville came to be and what it is today.”
The 28-minute video showed the importance of Dr. Dana Baldwin, the church, and education in growing the area into a bustling focal point of the Black community. It also portrayed how the Civil Rights Movement in the area was tackled through oral histories and interviews of local figures.
The event description stated the film “provides a moving tribute to the people of Fayette and serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our history and telling the stories of those who came before us.”
FAHI was established in 2004 by residents who wanted to preserve the history of the Fayette Street area.
Hairston said the organization is making efforts to move forward to expand the organization and its physical location to allow it to showcase the area’s history.
“The Martinsville Black history is just so rich and extensive that the space that we have, there is literally something covering every wall that we have right now,” she said, adding that the displays are “briefly even touching on the history that’s in the Fayette area.”
In addition to teaching and preserving the history of the Fayette Street area, Hairston said FAHI wishes to promote Black history in the entire Martinsville-Henry County area. That also requires the organization to expand its physical space.
“We’ve purchased the three adjacent properties next to the building that we already are located in, and so we are making efforts to try to gain money to be able to get” some projects done, she said.
In the last couple of months, FAHI held exhibits on the Divine Nine, the nine local African American fraternities and sororities in the area. A display about the history and legacy of African American Churches in the area was also held.
Hairston said FAHI plans to create a display on local African American athletes in the future.
“We need to show the youth of today what Martinsville once was so we can bring back a hope for the African American community and also educate other communities on what we have built for ourselves in our community,” she said.
FAHI is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the first and third Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, go to www.fahimusuem.org, or Facebook.com/FayetteAreaHistoricalInitiative.
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