planning committee

Ina Biggers 
Middle School Online Curriculum Learning Team 


Ina Orr Biggers, a Gastonia native, grew up in the Highland community. In 1967, she was one of the first students to graduate from the newly desegregated Highland Junior-Senior High School. Mrs. Biggers then attended Winston-Salem State University and was a triple major in Physical Education and Recreation, Biology and Mathematics. Mrs. Biggers also received a Masters in Education from Belmont Abbey's first graduate studies program, again graduating in a historical moment. Her career in teaching spanned more than 40 years in the Gaston County School System and in the Gaston College.

Kathleen Blake

High School Online Curriculum Learning Team


Kathleen S. Blake graduated from Lincoln High School in Bessemer City, NC as Salutatorian of her class. She graduated from Talladega College, in Talladega, AL with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and a Minor in Sociology.  Mrs. Blake marched in the Civil Rights Movement in Talladega, AL. In 1963 became the first Lincoln High School Graduate to return to her Alma Mater as a teacher. She retired from the Gaston County School System.

Aurelia Falls

Recording Secretary

Aurelia S. Falls graduated from Lincoln High School in Bessemer City, NC.  She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Commerce from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. Mrs. Falls retired from Duke Energy Corporation as a Senior Investor Relations Shareholder Representative.

Hayat Kemal

Social Media Manager

Hayat Kemal was born and raised in Punta Gorda, FL, but is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Ethiopia. Ms. Kemal attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in African American Studies and minored in Disabilities in Society. Ms. Kemal moved from Florida to North Carolina in August 2019 and received her Certification License to be a Registered Behavior Technician in January 2020.

Karen Bringle
Social Issues


Karen is a retired clinical social worker.  She moved from Iowa to North Carolina to be closer to her mother. Her goal is to continue to educate herself, and others, regarding racism in all forms and how it can be combatted.

Mary Ann Smith

Mary Nichols Smith graduated from Reid High School in Belmont, NC and Gaston College in Dallas, NC.  She was employed by the Gaston County Police Department and retired from the BB & T Bank after 30 years of service. She is currently the President of the Gaston County Democractic Women.

Carolyn West Brown
Education Outreach & Museum Shop Manager


Carolyn W. Brown attended Frank L. Ashley High School and is a graduate of Jefferson High School in York, SC. Carolyn is a graduate of Denmark Technical College in Denmark, SC.  Her career in banking included Teller Supervisor, New Accounts Representative, and Disputes Team Manager. She worked in banking for over forty years and retired from Wells Fargo as an Assistant Vice President of Financial Crimes in 2017.

Carolyn Watson 
Museum Treasurer

Carolyn Watson graduated from Lincoln High School in Bessemer City, NC.  She is an active member of the Finance Team at Friendship Christian Church. Ms. Watson retired from Daimler Trucks of NC LLC, formally Freightliner, LLC.

Mamie Chisholm

Elementary Online Curriculum Learning Team (Interactive Activities)

Mamie G. Chishlom graduated from Lincoln High School in Bessemer City, NC. She graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC with a Bachelor Degree in Foreign Language.  She was awarded Gaston County’s Teacher of the Year in 1979 and 1997. Mamie celebrated her 50th Year of Teaching in 2018.  She is presently teaching at Ashbrook High School in the Gaston County School System.

Charles Whitesides
Recording Financial Secretary and Fundraising

Charles H. Whitesides is a graduate of Highland High School in Gastonia, NC. Mr. Whitesides then attended Winston-Salem State University. In 2010 he received his Advanced Degree in Education Administration and Leadership from the University of North Carolina. He is now a retired administrator and teacher from the Gaston County School System.

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African American Museum of History and Culture at Loray Mill

Post Office Box 721  |   Gastonia, NC 28053