New project tells more inclusive history of Kalamazoo

Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Kalamazoo will begin hosting events and gathering stories to tell a more complete history of Kalamazoo, with a focus on injustices, cultural empowerment, and resistance to racism.  Through archival research and community-based story telling, the Historical and Cultural Landscape Project will gather data that will inform educational resources, art, monuments and landmarkers throughout the Kalamazoo community.  The goal of the project is to create a shared understanding of local history within a cultural context. 
 

The project will kick off with a virtual event on July, 14 at 4 p.m. titled Directing Power to change: Movements of Black Action at WMU 1968-Now, hosted in partnership with the WMU Lewis Walker Institute and the Institute for Public Scholarship. Register for the event on Zoom or on TRHT Kalamazoo’s event page.

"These new installations that will come from this community research and storytelling will tell a more complete history of our community," said Dr. Michelle S. Johnson, public scholar, historian and member of the TRHT Narrative Change - Education & History Design Team.  "Kalamazoo history includes culturally empowered Black, Latinx and Match-E-Be-Nash-She Wish Potawatomi people and many movements to resist racism and injustice."

"One of the goals of the project is to be an enduring and useful tool to help teachers, artists, youth caregivers, tour guides and visitors examine specific narratives and better understand our local history in a new context," said Mimi Abdul Bellamy, TRHT Kalamazoo Narrative Change - Education & History Design Team lead.

The locations and content that will be included in the project are guided by the design team, community knowledge holders and stories collected in collaboration with the Kalamazoo Public Library, the Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE), WMU Lewis Walker Institute, and The Race Exhibit of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The team is creating a variety of research projects, discussions and storytelling opportunities to get feedback on proposed locations, bring forward more narratives and identify important elements to raise in the locations that highlight and inspire responses in the direction of justice. These events will focus on familiar and lesser known moments of Kalamazoo history that highlight Black, Latinx and Match-E-Be-Nash-She Wish Potawatomi people.

"Truth-telling is an important first step toward racial healing and transformation," said Sholanna Lewis, Director of TRHT Kalamazoo, hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. "Many truths about our community, country and world have been left out of the mainstream narrative. This erases the dynamic role entire groups of people, often marginalized by racism, played in our history."

The project is being led by the local TRHT Narrative Change Design team. According to the TRHT Framework, developed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Narrative Change examines how to create and distribute new complex and complete narratives in entertainment, journalism, news media, digital media, publishing, school curricula, cultural institutions (i.e. museums), monuments and parks. In addition, it focuses on the way communication influences people’s perspectives, perceptions and behaviors about and toward one another in an effort to work more effectively and productively toward community-based change.

About Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Kalamazoo, hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, is a community-based movement to bring about transformational and sustainable change to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Kalamazoo is one of 13 TRHT locations nationwide, and one in four in Michigan (the others include Flint, Lansing, and Battle Creek). TRHT was launched in 2016 by W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Learn more at www.trhtkzoo.org

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