As you record your family’s history, remember to tell the stories of the institutions that enriched your journey and how they affected your life. If you don’t provide the historical record of these institutions, then others may attempt to do so without complete and authentic information. For my people it was necessary for our survival to create institutions that eased our struggle for equal rights and forward movement.
Tell your story of the secondary schools that prepared students for their next level, whether it was the work-world or higher education. The HBCUs, many which continue to deliver superb performance, educated the majority of the black middle class.
There were culturally relevant newspapers such as The Miami Times, The Pittsburg Currier, The Amsterdam News and The Afro- American to name a few. There were magazines that chronicled our dreams-come-true There were radio stations that also kept our stories alive . These media connected and encouraged us while recording our hopes, triumphs and setbacks..
The religious institutions set boundaries for community-wide behavior, provided weekly respite for the work-weary, gave young people opportunities to enhance self-development and practice civil discourse. They also provided opportunities for leadership, with many of the pastors eventually becoming leaders in the Civil Rights Movement.
The small businesses that populated the neighborhoods provided lessons in entrepreneurship and fueled economic stability. Supporting these businesses were a host of other community groups, clubs and member-driven associations that provided investment, burial and loan opportunities,
The stories you record of these institutions provide an important written record of your family’s part in the history of our country.