Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Program is Marion County, Ohio’s countywide folklife, cultural arts, heritage, & oral history non-profit: amplifying North-Central Ohio’s diverse cultural heritages & growing cultural arts livelihoods for more just, abundant futures for all.


Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History resoundingly stands with and for Black lives, in Marion County, Ohio, and beyond. We forcefully condemn all acts of police brutality, murder, and violence, aided and abetted by everyday acts of racism undergirded by structural-systemic anti-Black racism and white supremacy in this country. Marion Voices is an abolitionist project; and we stand with our Black and brown communities and organizers and protestors everywhere in demanding an end to policing, incarceration, and violence against Black lives. We stand for vibrant, beautiful, resilient, visionary Black futures. For us all.

Ms. Tara Dyer (R) shares vision and direction for the Marion Voices project and memories of transformative Marion City Black educators and teachers during a November 2018 Community Planning Session for Marion Voices, supported by Ohio Humanities.


Learn more about the history, mission, and vision of Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History — Marion County’s countywide folklife + cultural arts for justice organization. Through the twinned praxes of equity budgeting, community co-curation, & emergent design, Marion Voices partners directly with community cultural artists & public folklife & history modes like exhibits, festivals, apprenticeship programs, workshops, historical marker nominations, & our beloved K-12 folk arts residency program to grow arts- & heritage-based livelihoods in North-Central Ohio, while nourishing solidarities across lines of cultural, geographic, & racial/ethnic difference.

Marion County spiritual poet + spoken word artist Nicole Boyd, reflecting on the origins of her arts practice.


Here, find updates on upcoming Marion Voices events: including the roll-out of our Marion County Cultural Heritage Assets Mapping Project (CHAMP), Making It: Arts Livelihoods & Arts Economies in North-Central Ohio artists’ survey project, & North-Central Ohio Cultural Heritage Assets Mapping Project in Spring + Summer 2024.

Seamstress Alberta Cress of the Marion County Historical Society shares the history of how she learned to sew, and discusses her interest in participating in a folklife apprenticeship program, to help pass on her sewing traditions to a new generation.


Learn more about the practices of oral history, community-based folk arts documentation, and the ethics that shape how & why we do our work. Here, we also share more about what to expect from an oral history interview, and our definition of community-based folk/traditional/cultural arts and folklife traditions. Click here to see if you or someone you know would like to share your family’s histories, memories, or cultural traditions with our project!

WDIF-LP FM “TruBlues975” DJ and morning host “Silky” Ray Macklin (L), and station GM Spencer Phelps (R), pictured with Marion Voices Community Coordinator Johnnie Jackson.


Learn more about our vibrant & dynamic project team — including our core team, community scholars, & in-house humanities advisors — and our network of visionary community partner organizations.

You’ll also find contact information, ways to reach out to our team, and most important of all, ways to recommend yourself, a friend, neighbor, or family member, to be documented for our project!

Night exterior of the old River Valley Junior/High school near Caledonia, Ohio.

Marion Voices seeks to amplify under-heard histories & cultural traditions in Marion County: from our county’s Black, brown, immigrant/newcomer, rural, queer, working-class and disabled communities.

Founded in 2017, when Marion Voices Community Coordinator Johnnie Jackson and Project Director Jess Lamar Reece Holler met at a protest at City Hall in Columbus, Ohio, the Marion Voices project has worked steadily to mobilize the democratizing and power of oral history and folklife documentation to catalyze critical community conversations — about identity, history, culture, difference, and our collective futures — to build new & strengthen old coalitions for racial, economic, educational, & environmental justice in North-Central Ohio.

Originally launched as a project, then program, of the Marion County Historical Society, Marion Voices graduated into our own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2021: becoming Marion County’s only hybrid arts, culture, & public history organization; & North-Central Ohio’s only folklife organization.

For more on our oral history and folklife methods, ethos, and project timeline, see UPCOMING EVENTS.

At Marion Voices, we strive to enact deep diversity & inclusion work and racial justice, in part, through a deep attention to economic justice, equity, & ethics in community-based cultural work. We strive to achieve this work through a unique attention to economic justice, fair compensation, & recognition of the labor of community collaborators that we call the Marion Voices Equity Budgeting Model. Equity Budgeting is both a praxis and a movement; and we offer workshops, tutorials, & consultancies to train other practitioners + organizations in our model. For more on our equity budgeting praxis and our philosophies of community collaboration, see EQUITY BUDGETING: A MANIFESTO.


Marion Voices Preliminary Community Folklife Survey Tour Summary Video — Spring 2019 (feat. Mayes Community Temple Choir; Alberta Cress; Gerald Carr; Nicole Boyd)
Barber Daveon McGary at his Platinum Plus Barbershop in downtown Marion, Ohio. Daveon apprenticed with local barbers before heading to Columbus for his licensure. Today, with a staff of four seasoned barbers, and a lively shop culture, Platinum Plus serves customers from across Marion County, specializing in Black and Latinx hair.