Reflections from Icons
Library accepts collection of interviews with stalwarts
(pictured above: Attendees watch an interview with sit-in activist Carl Matthews.)
A collection of DVDs featuring interviews with sit-in activist Carl Matthews and Coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines and other local black history legends has been donated to the Malloy Jordan East Winston Heritage Center.
Karim Allah Sharif presented the interviews and a few photos to library officials on Wednesday, Feb. 26, after screening some of the DVDs and discussing them with an audience of about a dozen. Sharif himself interviewed the icons from 1992–2009 for his show, AAP (Active and Aspiring People) Magazine on the now defunct local community access channel CAT TV. Before his donation, he converted the interviews from VHS tapes to DVDs in order to make them more viewer-friendly.
“These are very significant people in this community, and they should be acknowledged because they didn’t make headlines, but they still did some things that were very significant that brought about a change in this community,” he said.
Sharif had several sit-downs with Gaines, who led Winston-Salem State to the pinnacle of basketball success, touching on his legendary career, the stellar players he coached and his legacy. Another of the donated DVDs features interviews Dr. H. Rembert Malloy, the late former surgeon for whom the library is partly named; Matthews, who led local students in a successful sit-in movement at segregated downtown Winston-Salem lunch counters in 1960; and the late William Roscoe Anderson Jr., a long time Recreation and Parks employee who helped to create the WSSU basketball program while he was a student there.
Sharif said when he went to city Recreation and Parks Director Tim Grant to ask that a rec center be renamed in Anderson’s honor, he didn’t need a petition, just his interview with Anderson outlining his accomplishments. Several years ago, the Reynolds Park rec center was renamed the William Roscoe Anderson Jr. Community Center.
“This is what convinced them to change the name of the recreation center,” Sharif said.
Another DVD is devoted to the impact local African Americans have had on golf. It features the likes of Joe Johnson, the first African American to win the Forsyth Invitational Golf Tournament.
The donation also includes several documentaries Sharif made on subjects like the impact Islam has had locally, Atkins High School and a reunion of the band Black Haze. The band was formed by black high school students in the 1970s. Members drifted apart once they entered college. They came back together for a reunion performance at Tony’s Lounge last year and asked Sharif to tape it. Sharif said it sounded like no time had passed since they had last played together.
“They made time stand still at Tony’s Lounge,” he said.
It will take up to a month for the DVDs to be catalogued. After that, they will be added to the library’s closed collection – meaning they can be viewed at library only, said Malloy Jordan Director Yolanda Bolden, who added that DVDs fit nicely with the library’s oral history project, Shades of Forsyth, which includes audio interviews and photos of many local black notables.
“It complements that, and then it sort of fills in some of the gaps of some local history,” she said.
Johnny X. Williamson, founder of the nonprofit I C.A.R.E. Support Group, was among those on hand for the presentation. He said he was impressed with the interviews.
“It’s needed because our young people need to know more than the stuff that they normally hear,” he said. “Sometimes a person can think they can’t excel, but if they see what these other African American men were doing … they’ll know they have the opportunity to become successful.”
Visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNo_vDh4FHOUpCFyfLDon2A to see videos from Karim Allah Sharif.