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Oral history interview with Billy E. Barnes, October 7, 2003

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Creator:Barnes, Billy E. (Billy Ebert), 1931-
Creator:Gritter, Elizabeth
Creator:Southern Oral History Program
Title:Oral history interview with Billy E. Barnes, October 7, 2003
Date:2003 Oct. 7

Billy E. Barnes is a photographer known for his documentary work on racial and economic justice issues in the 1950s and 1960s. Barnes begins the interview by explaining how he grew interested in issues of inequality while working as a photographer for McGraw-Hill Publishing in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1950s and early 1960s. After establishing a reputation for himself, Barnes was offered a job with the newly formed North Carolina Fund in 1963. Founded by Governor Terry Sanford and shaped by executive director George Esser, the North Carolina Fund was a precursor to President Johnson's more broadly conceived War on Poverty. Barnes describes the aims of the North Carolina Fund at length, emphasizing how the black power movement was demonstrative of the need to involve people in decision-making processes. He also discusses the Fund's ideology of providing people with opportunities and training rather than welfare, and its overall goal of breaking the cycle of poverty. Throughout the interview, Barnes describes the work of North Carolina Fund volunteers, who sought to educate children and implemented programs like Head Start. Researchers interested in the history of the North Carolina Fund, the photography of Barnes, or the uses of documentary photography in social justice movements of the South will find particularly useful material in the second half of the interview, in which Barnes describes a number of his most memorable photographs to the interviewer. The interview concludes with Barnes's brief discussion of his accumulated records about the North Carolina Fund and his failed effort to establish a radio station, owned and operated by the people, in Wautauga County, North Carolina. Barnes places the work of the North Carolina Fund within the broader context of economic justice and community empowerment, while paying attention to the political tensions that shaped the War on Poverty in the South.

The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

Types:Transcripts | Sound recordings | Oral histories (document genres) | Text | Sound
Subjects:Barnes, Billy E. (Billy Ebert), 1931- | Community development corporations--North Carolina--Employees | Social reformers--North Carolina | Photographers--North Carolina | North Carolina Fund | Community development--North Carolina | Documentary photography--North Carolina | Poverty--North Carolina | Poor--North Carolina | United States, North Carolina, 35.759573, -79.0193
Collection:Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)
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Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/O-0037/menu.html