Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. We all reminisce fondly about moments in our past, things we miss, things we may feel were better than they are now. But, while nostalgia can make us feel good, and happy memories should be celebrated, we must recognize that others will not share those same positive memories of the same events or periods. That the “good old days” you remember were not the same “good old days” for large groups of people. We may miss a store, a building, or a place, but we should also ask ourselves who was not permitted or welcomed in those spaces. We may only remember a positive interaction with an individual in a position of authority. But, who did not have that same experience and why might their experience have been different? What might their memories be? To deny the experiences and voices of members of marginalized and minority communities means that we continue to silence them rather than confronting our shared past. In not confronting our difficult and negative histories we cannot truly hope to progress because we will continue to make the same mistakes.
As a history museum it is part of our mission to share all parts of our history so that we can confront the present and aim to create a better future. What happened 50, 100, 200 years ago does not exist in a vacuum and it is the job of historians to help us understand both the short-term and long-term impacts of these moments in time. So, to acknowledge, listen, and learn about difficult histories is not to create division – rather it is to do the work necessary for progress to occur.
Therefore, as a first step and because we are in a position to provide a space for people to share their difficult histories, we will host a virtual community listening program. This is an opportunity for us to center the voices of marginalized members of the community, understand why it is important to learn about our shared past, and how we can use this understanding to help move forward. To do this it is important that we reach an engaged and diverse audience, but this will not be a space to push back, argue, or deny the experiences of individuals willing to share their histories. We encourage local leaders, officials, teachers, and students to join us and learn about the experiences of Black Bourbon Countians in this first of what we hope will be ongoing conversations.
This conversation will be moderated by Lindrell Blackwell. It will take place February 10 at 6:30 PM. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP and receive the Zoom invitation.