‘Cedars in the Pines’ Highlights NC’s Long History of Lebanese Immigration

Free exhibit will be held at Tryon Palace’s North Carolina History Center, Sept.12-Dec. 14

NEW BERN, NC – Sept. 12, 2014

An exhibition to commemorate the history of Lebanese immigrants who have made North Carolina their home since the 1880s will open Friday, Sept. 12. “Cedars in the Pines: The Lebanese in North Carolina: 130 Years of History” is the latest free exhibit to be hosted in Tryon Palace’s Duffy Gallery, located inside the North Carolina History Center.

Researched and developed by the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies at N.C. State University, the multimedia exhibit features personal stories, family photographs, home movies, letters, artifacts and audio recordings that bring to life the story of Lebanese immigration in North Carolina. Computer games, Arabic music, a dance floor to learn steps of the dabke, and other interactive components will further immerse museum visitors in the Lebanese immigration experience.

“Cedars in the Pines recounts the hard work, challenges and contributions of three generations of Lebanese immigrants who have adapted to life in North Carolina while struggling to maintain their cultural heritage,” says Akram Khater, Ph.D., Director of the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies at N.C. State University. “Lebanese Americans have left a lasting impression on the state’s civic, social, political, religious and cultural life.”

Cedars in the Pines follows the experiences of Lebanese immigrants from two waves of immigrations. The first wave arrived between the 1880s and the 1920s, when economic decline, famine and war encouraged the Lebanese to leave for the Americas and Africa. Some found their way to North Carolina. Another wave of Lebanese immigrants began to arrive in 1975, when a civil war broke out in Lebanon. This internal conflict and continuing regional tensions have led more Lebanese to emigrate.

Cedars in the Pines brings together their remarkable stories in three exhibit sections. A brief description of each follows:

•    Journeys explores the many choices associated with immigration. The section includes the history of Lebanon, the reasons the emigrants left home, and the hardships of their long journeys. In the 1880s, thousands boarded steamships for America, where new arrivals faced more challenges in a foreign country. Exhibit items, such as an Arabic Bible that belonged to Side Mack, who immigrated at age 17, help tell these important stories.

•    Belonging focuses on the challenges and opportunities of Lebanese immigrants who moved to North Carolina. Khater notes that the newcomers experienced culture shock, struggled against challenges and discrimination, and earned acceptance and success. The section highlights work, school and those who have given back to their communities. Visitors will see an elementary reader printed in Arabic; a Lebanese passport; items from Parker’s Restaurant, a family-run business in Rocky Mount; and other artifacts that recount these experiences.

•    Being explores what it means to be Lebanese in North Carolina, centering on home, religion and community. In this section, Khater explains that cultural practices like marriage traditions and food, music and religion, along with community organizations, played key roles in their efforts. Some traditions were changed to adapt to American culture, but others were strongly maintained.

Cedars in the Pines was previously displayed at the N.C. Museum of History, but has been moved to the North Carolina History Center with funding support from the Tryon Palace Foundation.

Additional support for Cedars in the Pines comes from N.C. State University, Department of History; Triangle Lebanese Association; and N.C. Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; and the Digital Innovation Lab at UNC-Chapel Hill. Individual and foundation gifts from the Lebanese-American community in North Carolina have also helped fund the exhibit design and installation.

For more information about Tryon Palace, please call 252-639-3500 or visit www.tryonpalace.org.

Other upcoming events at Tryon Palace include:

Sept. 19: Governor’s Challenge Cornhole Tournament

Sept. 27: Teacher Day at Tryon Palace

Sept. 27: Fall Family Day

Sept. 27: Kitchens of New Bern Tour

Oct. 10-12: MumFest Weekend

Dec. 13 and 20: Eve of Revolution: A Candlelight Celebration

Tryon Palace Media Contact
Craig Ramey
Marketing and Communications, Manager
Phone: (252) 639-3511
E-mail: cramey@tryonpalace.org
Web: www.tryonpalace.org

About Tryon Palace
Tryon Palace, located in New Bern, NC, is part of the Office of Archives and History, an agency of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Tryon Palace is one of North Carolina’s most significant historic sites. It is the home of the Governor’s Palace, North Carolina’s first colonial and first state capitol, and includes historic buildings, gardens and the North Carolina History Center, which revolutionizes the visitor experience through use of the latest interactive  technology. The History Center includes galleries, a performance hall, the museum store and a waterfront café. Tryon Palace’s mission is to engage present and future generations in the history of North Carolina from early settlement in 1710, the development of statehood and into the mid-twentieth century. It is dedicated to collecting, interpreting and preserving objects, buildings, landscapes and events that enrich understanding of the making of our state and nation.

Tickets and visitor information are available at Tryon Palace, 529 S. Front St., New Bern. For directions and further information about special events, programs or group tours, employment and more, visit our web site: www.tryonpalace.org or phone (800) 767-1560 or (252) 639-3500.

About the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies
The Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies was established in 2010 at N.C State University through a generous gift by Dr. and Mrs. Moise Khayrallah. The mission of the program is to research, preserve and publicize the history of Lebanese-American communities in the United States from its earliest days in the 1880s through today.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission is to enrich lives and communities by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and spurring the economic stimulus engine for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of State Archives, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage to offer experiences of learning and reflection. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state to develop and to offer access to educational resources through traditional and online collections including genealogy and resources for people who are blind and have physical disabilities.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.