‘Journey Stories’ programs to be held at WCU, Sylva

A series of free public programs being held in conjunction with the “Journey Stories” exhibit at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center will continue over the coming weeks at the WCU museum and at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva.

The Smithsonian Institution exhibit “Journey Stories” will be open to the public at the Mountain Heritage Center through Friday, Nov. 9. An accompanying exhibit focusing on local “journey stories” that was researched, designed and built by WCU public history students, “In, Out, Through and Back Again: Smoky Mountain Journeys,” is being shown at the library through Saturday, Nov. 17.

Upcoming “Journey Stories” events include:

“Journeys of Courage: Stories of African-Americans in Jackson County,” 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Jackson County Public Library. The program will be facilitated by Marie T. Cochran, executive director of the Affrilachian Artists Project and visiting lecturer in WCU’s School of Art and Design, and will feature the Rev. Victoria Casey McDonald, Reginald Rogers and Ernest Johnson discussing the themes introduced in the student exhibit that revolve around the integration of education in Jackson County. McDonald is the author of “A Pictorial History: The African-Americans of Jackson County” and “Just Over the Hill,” a collection of short stories about African-Americans in Jackson County in the 19th century. Rogers is assistant director of WCU’s Office of Research Administration and will provide his recollections of Tommy Love, whose story is highlighted in the WCU students’ exhibit. Johnson is a faculty member at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and his work focuses heavily on providing educators with tools they need for motivating at-risk children, teaching reading and working in dropout prevention. WCU public history students will attend the program to provide informal tours of their exhibit.

“Over There and Coming Home: Veterans’ Journeys,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Mountain Heritage Center. Lisa Winders, WCU’s director of military education, will lead a panel of veterans of wars ranging from World War II to Afghanistan in a discussion of the physical, emotional and psychological journeys of soldiers before, during and after war. Winders retired from the U.S. Air Force after 22 years of military service. Panelists will include recently retired Army National Guard Lt. Col. Jeffery Brotherton, an adjunct instructor at WCU.

“Captain Orr’s Badge: A Civil War Journey,” 4:30 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the Mountain Heritage Center. The journey of a Civil War-era U.S. Army officer’s badge from New York state to a flea market in Western North Carolina, as described in a Mountain Heritage Center exhibit, has inspired a graphic novel by retired WCU art professor Lee Budahl. In celebration of the novel’s publication, Budahl and others will discuss the historical mystery and sign copies of the novel, which will be available for purchase. Refreshments will be served.

The “Journey Stories” exhibit showing in Cullowhee is made possible by the North Carolina Humanities Council and is part of the Museum on Main Street program, a collaboration between the Smithsonian and state humanities councils nationwide. Support for the exhibit is provided through Congress and its showing at WCU is part of a six-stop tour of North Carolina.

For more information about the “Journey Stories” exhibit and related activities and events, contact the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129.