Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Responsibility to Tell

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Responsibility to Tell

Article excerpt

Historians have long identified the essential role of storytelling in the African and African American experience. The griot, responsible for preserving the legacies and memories of a people for future generations, held an esteemed position in the community. This special Black History Month edition of Black Issues continues in that tradition, particularly as we focus on the "yet to be told" stories of our history.

Telling the untold story is the goal of several public officials and scholars who are leading projects to build major African American museums in their respective cities. Assistant Editor Kendra Hamilton chronicles their efforts in our cover story. Longtime African American leaders Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder have been in the news for years for their museum-building battles. In the past few months, both Lewis and Wilder witnessed milestones in their quests. Lewis' 15-year struggle passed a significant hurdle in December with the passage of a bill to construct a National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. And Wilder's controversial plans were finally set in motion with a groundbreaking in December for the U.S. National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg, Va.

Yet, as Kendra reports, championing an African American museum is not just a "Black thing." Charleston, S.C., Mayor Joseph Riley Jr. is spear-heading efforts to construct the International African American Museum in his city, a beacon of Southern nostalgia. Riley has made it his personal mission to incorporate the experiences of African Americans and Africans in Charleston into the city's tourist culture. …

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