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Capturing History with the Living Archives project

April 5, 2024

We invite you to come and join us for a special event revealing the Living Archives Mural to be hosted at Lions Services on April 18, 2024 at 11 a.m. 


Register Here


Over the last three years, the Living Archives project successfully collected stories of marginalized communities in Mecklenburg County through the COVID-19 pandemic. Those stories - in the form of video, audio, art, text and more - will be preserved by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's digital archive, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, in perpetuity. Focused on equity, the project gathered stories from Black, Hispanic, Asian and Indigenous residents with a focus on those who are essential workers, housing insecure, immigrants, formerly incarcerated residents, small business owners, families with children, teens, college students, the elderly, LGBTQIA, veterans and people with disabilities. The initial project goal was to collect 200 stories and currently, we have been able to collect over 340+ stories, going well above and beyond what we first imagined. Transitioning from a story collection phase, the project shifted gears towards a more community-focused phase where community focused exhibits were available to the public, events and programming provided, as well as the completion of a permanent mural.


By uniting these stories in a single artwork, our mural recognizes our shared experiences. The vibrant imagery highlights the themes often shared in the narratives – themes of self-reflection, community commitment, and the weight of uncertainty – echoing and amplifying the viewers own pandemic story. The Living Archives Mural stands as a testament to the enduring values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a legacy for the entire County, ensuring that the stories of our neighbors will be preserved and celebrated for generations to come.


Local artist Abel Jackson is responsible for the mural which is located at Lions Services Inc. at 4600 N Tryon. Continue reading to learn more about the different components of the mural in his own words:


Mockup of the Living Archives mural at Lions Services by artist Abel Jackson

“Each person is symbolic of various emotions and experiences. I tried to capture a variety of emotions in each person. Each individual gives some representation of ethnicity/ race and gender in hopes of displaying diversity:


  • Black man representing vision impaired and essential worker. This design illustrates the idea of finding peace in the midst of adversity. In the scene, he is playing his favorite music on a record player as he deals with everything that is going on around him.


  • Beneath him is a Hispanic woman crying with her hands covering her face. She represents sadness and depression.


  • On the left side of the door adjacent to her is an Asian man. He is a business owner. Not only is he concerned with the survival of his business during the pandemic he is also worried about all those who depend on him including his family and workers. He represents anxiety and stress.


  • To the left of him is an indigenous Lumbee woman handing out meals and food to the elderly. She represents community service and helping those in need. 


  • Above the Black man is a mother looking out the window. She has quarantined herself in her own home because she has Covid. She is wearing a mask in her room looking out the window. She represents isolation and fear of uncertainty. 


  • Lastly, is a woman who is looking up and taking a deep breath. She is enjoying what she once took for granted. She represents strength and resilience."


This event will include the unveiling of the Living Archives mural, Charlotte Mecklenburg Mobile Library (MoLi), guest speakers, and various food trucks. This event is free to the public.