Princeville: Past and Present

Henry Morfeld
Staff Writer

PC: UNCG Office of Intercultural Engagement

Imagine entering a part of the EUC that is entirely foreign to you, then add an exhibit on a place that is close to home, that you’ve never heard of.

This past week from Feb. 11 through 14, the Office of Intercultural Engagement (OIE) hosted a seasonal exhibit called “Portraits of Humanity: Princeville, North Carolina.” This exhibit, which was held by UNCG, told the story of Princeville, North Carolina.

Princeville was established in 1886 and is the first town in the United States to be chartered by free black Americans. However, this town sits on very low and unstable marshland, and because of this it has suffered greatly from the effects of Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Matthew.

The walls of the EUC were covered with meter-long by meter-wide pictures of current Princeville residents. These pictures also had quotes from these residents, one of which being the mayor of Princeville, Bobbi Jones.

Jones discussed the fact that the original people who founded Princeville were given the land because nobody had wanted it, as it was little more than marshland.

The Director of the OIE, Augusto Peña, is in his nineteenth year of higher education and has been director of the office for four years. He previously worked as the director of the OIE at Appalachian State University.

In an interview with Peña, asking about the origin of the exhibit itself, he cited that the Sociology department on campus was where the exhibit originated from by stating, “Not recently, we have this space available in the Intercultural Research Center for exhibits like this, we have done them every now and again. This is the most recent one since last Spring I think we had one as well.” That was all Peña was willing to divulge about the history of exhibits such as these.

He comments on the future of the gallery, saying, “Sure, we don’t have anything scheduled right now but we typically have an exhibit each semester, Fall and Spring. We may do another one later this semester but so far this is what we’ve got scheduled.”

During the interview with Peña, asking his thoughts on what the future exhibits would be like, he went into great length about OIE’s commitment to representation for both LGBTQIA+ identities and other marginalized groups.

Peña described his commitment to bridging the gaps between communities of various races, creeds and orientations.

Peña closed the interview by expressing that the OIE is currently hiring, and if any students are interested they can contact his email.

He also mentioned that while currently the office is not hiring that will change later in the semester. The jobs that would be available are office assistant jobs and peer educators.

Peer educators lead group discussions involving race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality and whatever other subject the gallery is covering. While the future exhibits of this gallery remain a mystery to all but a handful, it would be wise to hold out hope for another one coming soon that may allow even more students to learn and connect with one another.

If you are interested in photography and history, be sure to check the Princeville NC: Portraits Humanity Exhibit next time it’s on display.  

Augusto Pena Contact Information: Phone: 336-334-5090 Email:

Categories: Features

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