In addition to being a masters student in history at NC State University, Jim Wrenn serves as vice president of The Phoenix Historical Society: African American History of Edgecombe County, a non-profit organization founded to “to recover, record, and promote the history of African Americans in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.” Wrenn researched and authored a paper that was instrumental in a 2022-23 Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded Library Services and Technology Act grant awarded to East Carolina University Library Special Collections and the Phoenix Historical Society to support research, planning, and production of a documentary about Kingsboro’s 1995-1996 activism against Iowa Beef Processors, Inc. (IBP). IBP wanted to locate a large-scale pork processing plant in the Edgecombe County community of Kingsboro, between Rocky Mount and Tarboro. The documentary will examine the historically Black community’s success in organizing against a major potential source of pollution, an example that could assist contemporary efforts to protect communities from polluters. The grant provides $50,000 in support of the project.
Wrenn developed the basics of the grant application in Tammy Gordon’s HI596: Introduction to Public History in Fall 2021, and developed it fully with partners at ECU and the Phoenix Historical Society. He has presented on the Kingsboro events of 1995 at both community and academic meetings. The documentary, when complete, will be available for free through ECU’s Digital Collections website.