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The Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History contains over 700 oral history interviews with African American elders throughout Florida and the wider Gulf South. These interviews and the overall projects associated with them have resulted in numerous public programs, university seminars on African American history and Ethnic Studies, and community-based oral history workshops.

The Buchanan archive contains interviews from numerous different projects at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, including the African American History Project (AAHP) which began in 2009 through the efforts of Paul Ortiz, Marna Weston, and Joel Buchanan; the Fifth Avenue Blacks collection (FAB) created by Joel Buchanan in 1981; the Mississippi Freedom Project (MFP) which derives from SPOHP’s annual trip to the Mississippi Delta to interview Civil Rights Movement veterans; the Oscar Mack Project (OMP), detailing the remarkable story and legacy of Oscar Mack and his family; the Underground Railroad collection (URR) which includes interviews with Black Seminoles and Gullah-Geechee elders and leaders; the Civil Rights in St. Augustine collection begun by David Colburn in the late 1970s; the St. Augustine African American History collection (SAAH), begun by Raja Rahim and Annemarie Nichols in 2016; and many more.

These interviews offer a wealth of African American narratives and complex reflections on topics, events and themes including:

  • Life under Jim Crow, including institution-building, educational philosophies and methods, food security, community-based healthcare, support and service organizations, displacement and dispossession, labor, armed self-defense, and tactics of resistance.
  • Civil Rights activism, including the Tallahassee Bus Boycott movement and numerous sit-ins and wade-ins.
  • Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Southern Regional Council (SRC), local movement organizations, and the integration of public institutions, facilities, and higher education, including SEC sports.
  • Personal memories of luminaries such as Mary Mcleod Bethune, Ralph Abernathy, Howard Thurman, Harry T. Moore, Benjamin Mays, Martin Luther King Jr., and Zora Neale Hurston.
  • Interviews with pastors and leaders of historic Black churches throughout Florida.
  • Veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars.
  • Gullah-Geechee elders and Black Seminoles discussing coastal slavery, cultural traditions, and the legacies of the Seminole wars.
  • African diasporic heritage from North America and the Caribbean.
  • Narratives of forced slavery migration into Florida from the 1850s.
  • The continued significance of the presidency of Barack Obama.

Our interviews and transcripts are frequently updated, and we encourage researchers to visit the collections on a regular basis. Please note that transcripts can never perfectly represent the spoken word; we encourage anyone who is interested in the interviews to listen to them rather than simply reading the transcripts. If you are interested in referring a potential interviewee, conducting an interview, or assisting with transcription, please contact the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at (352) 392-7168.

Using the Collections

Rights management: Interviewee and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of Florida. The SPOHP archive is available for noncommercial use by researchers and scholars, students, journalists, genealogists, and other interested groups. Documents may be accessed through this digital collection, as well as the archive in Pugh Hall on the UF campus. When using any content, please make sure to properly reference and comply with the Copyright Notice. We also encourage all researchers to conform to the Principles and Best Practices outlined by the Oral History Association.

The following basic format to cite the material is based on Chicago Style; please use this format or a comparable version that adheres to other citation styles (e.g. American Psychological Association, Modern Language Association) as needed.

(Name of interviewee) Oral History Interview with (Name of interviewer), (Date of interview), (page number). (Interview collection name and project code), Samuel Proctor Oral History Program Collection, University of Florida.

For more information on the African American History Project (AAHP), see: