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Arts & Culture

Levine Staff Historian Leaves For Detroit But Says, 'Charlotte Is In My DNA'

Sarah Delia

The Levine Museum of the New South is saying goodbye to its staff historian. Brenda Tindal has accepted a position as the director of education at the Detroit Historical Society. Her last day at the Levine Museum is December 8.

While her tenure at the museum was just 2 years, the 36-year-old native Charlottean was present for several significant moments in the city’s history: the passing of Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance, House Bill 2, the repeal of House Bill 2, and the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.

Tindal says the museum always wants to have its finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the community, which is why it hosted a town hall for the public to express their concerns and feelings after the shooting. Tindal recalls a packed room of people as she lead the meeting.

"To see a standing room only audience in that space roughly 7 days after the shooting,  was just really inspiring," Tindal said. "It told me that people weren’t retreating, people weren’t shying away from having these difficult conversations and that they were willing to do it with folks that they might otherwise may not be in the room with."

The town hall also sparked the idea for K(no)w Justice, K(no)w Peace an exhibit co-created with community members which documented the city’s response to the shooting. Tindal, who curated the exhibit, says it’s her favorite spot in the museum. 

There were challenges that went came with her role as staff historian. She says the month of September in 2016 was an unexpected challenge. 

"That was both a challenge and an opportunity. It was a challenge because anytime the community is shaken in that way, we are reminded of our own humanity," Tindal said. “In that moment, I'm both a staff historian and a member of this community and trying to make sense of that, emotionally and professionally."

Being a Charlotte native and community member, gave Tindal a unique perspective for the job. 

"I bring an informed perspective in part because Charlotte is in my DNA...While I have this particular public platform as staff historian, I'm also of the community," Tindal said.  "I was born here, bred here, and cultivated in a lot of ways here. So I feel like it's been a real noble and rewarding opportunity to serve Charlotte in this capacity."

Tindal describes leaving the museum and her hometown as bittersweet. 

"I don't know that there is ever a right time to leave your hometown and leave a wonderful place like Levine Museum," Tindal said. "But I'm 36, unmarried and if there were a good time to tap into a new opportunity before life sort of takes over, now would be the time...not an easy decision to make for sure but it feels like the right time for me."