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Panola College in Carthage, Texas, mounts Prohibition exhibit


Panola College in Carthage, Texas, will open its first large-scale exhibit Wednesday. 

The exhibit, “Spirited: Prohibition in America,” is organized by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and made possible through the National Endowment for the Humanities’ On the Road Initiative.

Panola’s library services director Cristie Ferguson says the exhibit came in 21 crates, and many people at the college had a hand in setting it up. They cleared almost the entire first floor of Panola's M.P. Baker Library to make room for it.

“It is a nice opportunity here in a small town. It is museum quality. Most of the places where these exhibits travel are museums where you’d have to purchase a ticket,” Ferguson said.

The exhibition shows the changing role of liquor in American culture. During the Prohibition era, Americans couldn’t manufacture, sell or transport alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.

Ferguson appreciates the interactive aspects, like a video that shows how to dance the Charleston. The presentation of historical documents is not just not writing on the wall, according to Ferguson.

“There’s actual duplicated documents from the FBI that came in a full-sized desk. The students can open all the drawers and go through the files and look through the information the FBI had on those gangsters. It’s a hands-on, interactive exhibit instead of just things you walk through and read,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson expects more than 1,000 college and high school students will tour the exhibit that runs through March 13. Texas State Historian Bill O’Neal, a former Panola College history instructor, will give a presentation on moonshine operations in East Texas on Feb. 3. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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