Dr. Jacqueline Burnside, Berea Independent

Dr. Jacqueline Burnside, Berea Independent

Dr. Jacqueline Burnside, Berea Independent

Dr. Jacqueline Burnside, Berea Independent Inspiration in local history

When people are curious about the pioneering role of Berea as an early interracial community, they can follow a walking/driving map of the city that points out historic areas relating to black settlers’ contributions to the region, or read Berea and Madison County, a documentary photo book.

They can thank Dr. Jacqueline Grigsby Burnside, a 15-year Berea Independent school board member, for those resources. Burnside authored the book and directed the community’s Historic Black Berea Project, collaborating with African-American and white residents of Berea and college students to create the map and an oral history from descendants of African-American and white pioneers , pre- and post-Civil War.

But don’t call her a historian: “We call it historical sociology,” said Burnside, who works as a sociology professor and chairperson of the Department of Sociology at Berea College.

Tracking down the descendants wasn’t that hard, she said, with records from the college and the town’s founder, abolitionist Rev. John G. Fee.

“Really, Berea (the school and the town) was like 100 years ahead of its time with equality, men and women, blacks and whites. And one of the main strategies they did was have the housing – the residential area – interracial. So the kids are growing up together, their parents are learning to be neighbors, worship together,” Burnside said.

She is getting her files in order to be turned over to the college’s special collections, where she hopes researchers will continue the work. “I’m very interested in helping other people do some more,” she said.
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