Watch the Kingsboro documentary

“We Can Do Better” was the slogan used by the Citizens for Responsible Zoning during a public campaign that prevented Iowa Beef Processors, Inc., from installing a hog-processing plant in Kingsboro, a predominantly Black community between Rocky Mount and Tarboro. Scenes include spirited footage from town hall meetings from the 1990s and reflective interviews conducted in Edgecombe County.

To watch the full documentary, click here for the Kingsboro archived page and information.

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The “We can do Better” documentary is supported by a 2022-23 Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded Library Services and Technology Act grant. Collaboration between ECU Special Collections, the Phoenix Historical Society and producer Frederick Murphy with A1 Day1 Productions in Charlotte led to the curation of the 30-minute film.

Interviews for the “We can do Better” documentary.

“We didn’t want it in our backyard. And if those people, those warriors, hadn’t stood together and spoke so forceful, anything could’ve happened.” Katie Whitehead said after watching archival footage from the Citizens for Responsible Zoning Collection.

The April 22 event was at Carmon Auditorium, located on the first floor of the Edgecombe County Administration Building. The program included remarks before the film screening and a facilitated discussion following the screening. Final remarks provided by Mavis Stith of the Phoenix Historical Society.

“This project gave us the opportunity to work with and benefit the community, while also providing an educational resource that can be used worldwide,” said Kelly Spring, grant primary investigator and Head of Manuscripts & Digital Curation for the ECU main campus library.

ECU’s screening was at Black Box Theatre on the second floor of the Main Campus Student Center, featuring a panel discussion and closing remarks by Spring.

Open access to the film is provided through the ECU Digital Collections website, along with historical documents related to the work of the Kingsboro community through ECU’s historical manuscript collections.

The Phoenix Historical Society: African American History of Edgecombe County (N.C.) was founded in 2001 to recover, record and promote the unique history of Edgecombe County as experienced by members of its African American community. This collection contains the society’s official records, brochures, event programs and publications related to research, community events and sponsored projects.

ECU Digital Collections is a unique resource to thousands of images, texts and recordings from the East Carolina University main campus library’s rich holdings. Collections support the research and teaching mission of ECU and preserve the cultural heritage of the eastern North Carolina community through digital initiatives, especially the creation of digital library materials and tools.

Public viewing of “We can do Better” held at the ECU Main Campus Student Center on April 24, 2023.