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Uncrowned Community Builders at the Merriweather

An interactive technology site that will allow community members to share, read and upload personal histories of unsung community builders among the African-American populace is coming to the Merriweather Library.
The ceremony (taking place at 1:00 today) will include an address by Barbara Seals Nevergold, Ph.D., co-founder of Uncrowned Community Builders and a senior educational specialist at the University at Buffalo, in which she will describe the new technology site located in the Merriweather Library.
A library kiosk will permit the public to log onto the Uncrowned
Community Builders Website
in order to become a member and send biographies, photos, and audio messages about community builders to the page for posting.
The kiosk was designed at no charge to the Uncrowned Queens by Hadley Exhibits in cooperation with Ben Porcari of IBS Digital. “We owe them a debt of gratitude,” said co-founder of this endeavor, UB Senior Educational Specialist Peggy Brooks Bertram, Dr. P.H., Ph.D.. “We’ll have the site up and working at the Meriweather next week, but we’ll need another $10,000 or so to actually build the kiosk.”
Nevergold said, “The partnership between the Uncrowned Queens Institute and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library marks a milestone in the Institute’s history; the first in the nation Uncrowned Community Builders Affiliate.”
In collaborating to establish an Uncrowned Community Builders technology site at the Frank E. Merriweather Library, the UQI and the library are not only advancing the mission of the Institute, e.g. to collect, preserve and share the histories of African American Community Builders, but also establishing a digital literacy program that will serve as a model for other Uncrowned Community Builders Affiliates.
The Erie County (PA) Historical Society, and an affiliate in Enid, Oklahoma are close to starting a project of their own modeled on UQI’s.


Bertram and Nevergold have created a prototype that is getting national attention and is a veritable gold mine of historical data that the two have enthusiastically and lovingly gleaned from the community. “In many cases, we have gotten stories as a result of people coming in to talk about their relatives who’ve recently died. In other cases, we’ve walked people to their death, capturing their history before they go,” Bertram said.
John W. Franklin, director of partnerships and international relations at the Smithsonian Institution’s National African American Museum of History and Culture will speak, along with David Penniman, former dean of the University at Buffalo School of Informatics and executive director of NYlink.
Bertram said, “If we can teach other organizations across the country to be affiliates, they will be able to link off of our site.”
The event will be attended by Erie County Executive Chris Collins, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, New York State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, New York State Senator Antoine Thompson and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant.
The White House Historical Society, who is looking to UQI to complete some of their own data, has sent a congratulatory video that will be shown.
“We couldn’t have done this without [UB President] John B. Simpson,” Bertram said. “Two and a half years ago, he sat and listened to Barbara and me for two hours–the most time anyone had given us up to that point.”
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Above photos: rendering of kiosk (that needs funding!), Peggy at her current favorite story on the site (Stansil).

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