For far too long, African Americans' plight, their experiences, and contributions have been marginalized or omitted throughout the telling of this nation’s history to present day.
This continuing false narrative is what prompted AARCH (African American Resources, Cultural and Heritage Society of Frederick) to work toward opening an African American Heritage Center in Frederick to highlight the achievements and significant role African Americans played in building this county and country. We hope to charge the old narrative by focusing on telling our history in an all-inclusive way by simply facing the truth in its wholeness, as painful as it may sometimes be.
We are inspired by an African Proverb which states: “Until the story of the hunt is told by the Lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
On July 25, The Frederick News-Post published a wonderful keepsake edition called “Hello Frederick, 52 Things You Might Not Know About Frederick’s History.” It was very rewarding to see African American stories included this time.
But as I began to read, I quickly noticed these stories were being told by the hunter rather than the lion.
My first concern was on page 6, regarding The Frederick Hornet newspaper.
It would have been noteworthy to point out that the original newspaper, and only known copy, is preserved in the AARCH collection. A credit of “photo courtesy of AARCH” would have sufficed. As it is, any mention is omitted of AARCH, the African American heritage group preserving this otherwise ignored chapter of our history. Since we have the only known copy, we were interested in knowing where you got the photo.
Another concern, which was perhaps even more significant, is on page 36 about The Tivoli. The article, regarding AARCH’s production and celebration of our award-winning documentary feature film, The Tale of The Lion, would lead the reader to believe this production was an initiative of the Weinberg Center and the city of Frederick. Again, AARCH was not mentioned.
The film production along with every detail of the program of the Tale of The Lion was planned and initiated by AARCH members including the significance of the location, the VIP seating, the red carpet treatment and the invitation to our elected officials. AARCH invited our community together to honor the women and men of the film, and all whom they represent, at this sold-out event, but is not acknowledged anywhere in the article.
A critically important part of the event was that AARCH, the Weinberg Center and our city collaborated together to make it happen.
Again, more recently, on August 10, a News-Post article listed the recipients of the competitive Frederick County Tourism TRIPP grant. Although AARCH is a recipient and was listed first in the press release sent by tourism, AARCH is not listed anywhere in the article.
When we look back through the history records, our contributions and accomplishments are often marginalized or altogether omitted. It appears in many ways as if African American people did not exist. The examples of News-Post omissions I have pointed out here fall into that same pattern.
Because the July 25 insert will be a keepsake for many and undoubtedly used for historical documentation and research, it is very important to make these corrections known. I’m hopeful that these corrections are given more attention than the standard small printed corrections in a daily edition where it could be overlooked.
I mention these things because they are extremely important to recognize if we hope to move forward together. Whether these omissions are intentional or not, the impact is the same. I propose that we ask ourselves why, and embrace a commitment to change.
Thank you for the opportunity to voice my thoughts and concerns.
David Key is the president of African American Resources, Cultural and Heritage Society of Frederick