African Americans have an abbreviated history of participation in mainstream historic and cultural preservation initiatives. In recent years, however, there are signs of progress as we’ve become more involved in “telling our story and promoting Florida’s African American history and culture”. Many senior citizens in Florida are contributing significantly to this new spiritual movement. It is critical that we build on this foundation by improving the capacity of our museums, while training a generation to take our places as professional museum Directors.
As the tourism industry expands to reach new markets, African American museums are critical to the diversification of the industry. Each of our museums is positioned to play a critical role by identifying, preserving, documenting, interpreting and helping others to celebrate and appreciate historical landmarks and legacies representative of our niche market. Our role, also, is to instill pride of ancestry and shape new attitudes that will result in succeeding generations having a broader perspective and an enriched legacy to carry with them into the future.
In the 21st Century, residents seek outdoor and green space to rejuvenate and exercise. As the population grows many communities are electing to preserve not only historically significant sites and buildings but green space and outdoor gathering places for people to come together for public quality of life purposes. A walk-able community is highly desirable and contributes to a more healthy community. We have the potential to offer this to Florida residents, businesses and visitors by capitalizing on the remaining open green spaces in communities across the state. The network encourages the support of citizens, elected and appointed governmental officials, agency heads, corporations and foundations to help in this very important initiative to protect and preserve the environment and contribute to a healthier America.
We welcome you to the network and invite your participation. In the words of Sweet Honey and the Rock, “WE are the ones that we’ve been waiting for”.
Althemese Barnes, Founding Director
John G. Riley Center/Museum, Inc