Georgia Southern students increase access to African-American Heritage Trail

Students at the Armstrong campus add audio to digital trail
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 1:36 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 3:38 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - For the past month or so, students at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus have been working on an important project.

“This project is about recreating, digitally, the African-American Heritage Trail that WW Law had established in 1979,” explains Assistant Professor of History at GSU Armstrong Dr. Kurt Knoerl.

While they first established a digital copy a few years back, Dr. Knoerl and his students are making an important update.

“What we’re doing now is adding audio files to it, so if people don’t want to read it, they can just listen to the story map.”

Giving these stories, quite literally, a voice. Something these students were more than happy to help with.

“I got really excited about it!” Student narrator Jaley Carlile says.

Bringing the trail, WW Law’s work and words back to life.

A somewhat intimidating task for the man charged with portraying his voice, Marchello Graddy

“When I was approached about it and he gave me the script, I was very nervous about it because I didn’t want to give the wrong impression or imitate his voice. I feel like it’s important to have his legacy stay there.”

A legacy Marchello and his classmates now get to play a role in sharing, while maybe even learning a little of their own along the way.

“I realized that I don’t actually know about a lot about Savannah’s Black History and I think it’s important for everyone, especially those that live here, to know and understand the Black History in Savannah,” said student narrator Abigail Blanda.

Giving others a chance to learn that history as they explore the streets of Savannah or do it from the comfort of their home.

“I feel like a virtual tour is helpful for people who aren’t big on walking in the Savannah heat,” said student narrator Chase Henry.

Right now, the trail includes 27 locations, information, and now audio all in the palm of your hand…putting you right in the story.

“Savannah is a really beautiful city on it’s own and it’s covered in historic landmarks and history in general and I think learning about that and discovering it and using these resources is a fun way to learn about history and explore our beautiful Savannah,” Carlile says.

A city made all the more beautiful thanks to the work of those who came before us and those working to ensure we don’t forget them.

“I’ve learned so much about WW Law, he was an amazing man and I’m glad he really changed history in Savannah,” said Carlile.

“This is really important information. This is stuff people have not heard about before and I think it’s very cool personally,” Graddy says.

“So, a site like this helps people appreciate it and become aware how much is still around us from the past,” added Dr. Knoerl.

If you’d like to check out the digital trail for yourself, click here.