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The Voice of the Black Community


Home-grown historian tells the South’s story
Tindal adds perspective to Museum of New South
Published Thursday, December 10, 2015 10:05 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Brenda Tindal, the new historian at Levine Museum of the New South, is a native Charlottean with a global perspective. She’s transitioning from her job as a lecturer at UNC Charlotte.
















Brenda Tindal draws from her Charlotte roots, even when she travels the world.

Tindal, the new historian at Levine Museum of the New South, often finds herself as the only Charlotte native at programs. It’s helpful in sharing the region’s history in an increasingly international city.

“One of the things that we constantly joke about here at the museum is that you can go to a program and have an audience full of people, and when you ask the question, ‘how many of you are natives of Charlotte,’ they’re in the minority to say the least,” said Tindal, who succeeds the retiring Tom Hanchett. “I think one of the important things is that I’m a native Charlottean. My understanding of Charlotte’s history is very much both academic and intellectual, but also from a lived experience perspective. I’ve spent the majority of my life here in Charlotte. I went to (Charlotte-Mecklenburg public) schools. I went to UNC Charlotte as an undergraduate. Charlotte is in my DNA, if you will.”  

As she transitions from her role as a lecturer at UNCC, Tindal’s work with the museum allows her to reach a larger audience.  

“At the museum, I’m really engaging a much broader audience—a much broader demographic of patrons and visitors and friends of the museum,” she said. “I think the major difference is at UNC Charlotte I’m teaching undergraduate students, and here at the museum, I’m engaging undergraduate students and so many others.

“I always like to talk about this never having a poverty of imagination, and the classroom is also an oasis of creativity as well, but this space really allows me to use many of the skill sets that I’ve cultivated over the years as an educator, as a museum practitioner, as a scholar, as an archivist. I really get to operationalize all of those skill sets here at the museum.”  

Tindal’s professional pursuits have taken her all over the world, and allowed her to develop skills as an archivist, historian, and other intellectual areas.

“I did my graduate work at Emory University in Atlanta, and I also did a number of internships and had certification and training at Princeton University,” she said.

“I had the (Institute of Museum and Library Services), which is the Institute of Louisiana Library Services Fellowship. I worked as an archivist for the 20th century public policy collection and the university archives at Princeton. I’m sort of an archivist by training, as well as a historian, so I’ve worked on a number of collections within the manuscript archives and rare books library at Emory, including the Alice Walker Papers.”

Tindal’s academic interests blended traditional academic environments as well as historic preservation at museums, archives, libraries and special collections.

She has also traveled extensively, including Africa, where Tindal taught history at the university level, as well as Europe.

“I think my favorite place is probably South Africa, I think in part because I teach comparative U.S. and South African history, and I work with the Milla Mayes undergraduate program for their January program at the University of Cape Town,” she said. “I’ve been to Slovenia, which is in Eastern Europe, for conferences. I’ve been to France, of course. Those are just some of the fun but unique and enriching places that I’ve traveled to as a result of my intellectual professional interests.”  
Regardless of where her work takes her, Tindal leans on a strong support system back home.   

“I’m the first person to graduate from college — the first person to go pursue graduate studies in my family,” she said. “I think in some ways, my family has lived vicariously through my experiences. I think that’s sort of the beauty of it. I’ve been able to expose my immediate family to a reality and to a life that transcends Charlotte and transcends the South. To me, that’s been probably one of the most gratifying things. Not just get to experience it, but that I get to bring those experiences to my family and share that with them.

“They’re a great support system and always have been. Even when I’m in South Africa or in France, I can always call home and get the parallel support from my mother and father; and I have a twin sister and my older sister. Family is everything.”    


Congratulation to Brenda Tildal
At this moment I feel so proud being a women of color connection with your caliber.
Posted on December 10, 2015

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