NEW BERN, N.C. — An exhibit of personal stories, family photographs and artifacts from Lebanese Immigrants is on display in New Bern.
“Cedar in the Pines: The Lebanese in North Carolina” is at Tryon Palace’s North Carolina History Center. Students and staff from NC State University’s Khayrallah Program for Lebanese- American Studies curated the exhibit, which first went on display at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.
Curator and NC State Lebanese-American Studies program director Akram Khater said the purpose of the exhibit is to break down stereotypes and educate folks on Lebanese heritage.
“A friend of mine approached me and we were having a conversation, and basically he said that after 9/11, the image of Arabic-Americans in general and Lebanese-Americans in particular was primarily either as terrorist or as un-American, and he wanted to do something about that. So, we started a project to collect the oral histories of the Lebanese in North Carolina,” Khater said.
Khater said they spent four years collecting oral histories from Lebanese living in North Carolina. For 90-year old New Bern native Aggie Derda, the exhibit is a piece of her family history.
Derda is a “proud Lebanese” whose parents came from Ellis Island to Boston to New Bern. Her parents are even featured in the exhibit.
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful exhibit, and I hope that everyone in town will come and learn a little bit more about the Lebanese heritage because it is a beautiful heritage,” she said. “I had the best mother and daddy in the whole wide world. I wish they were still living so they could see what they’ve done to this place.”