LANSING, MI -- February is Black History Month. Traditionally, we celebrate the month by looking at past accomplishments of well-known figures like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks or George Washington Carver. However, there are rich histories locally yet to be uncovered in pasts of living African American families.
Bridging the gaps for the transitional period from slavery to freedom is complicated. African American families have a difficult time tracing their history beyond a certain point. Researchers of African American families have to deal with slavery and the struggle for freedom, which did not always provide detailed documentation.
However, locally the Capital Area District Library's (CADL) Forest Parke Library & Archives serves as steward and primary repository for Special Collections. Many items are housed on-site, some are in off-site storage and others at branch locations.
Some items are too fragile for public use, including a letter from Sergeant S. Paris Thompson (pictured on Page 1) who had recently returned from Europe and WW1 written to his mother in Lansing. The letter was recently uploaded to CADL's Special Collections website and provides interesting insight to the Black soliders return home from a tour of duty.
David Votta is the History Librarian and the Archivist at CADL.
Votta said, “It is only in recent years that an interest in family history has become a media issue with African American families. African Americans are doing more about researching family history and we provide resources to aid in that endeavor.”
The library will offer the 2010 African American Family History Showcase on Saturday, February 20, 2010 from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm in the lower level galleries of the downtown branch at 401 S. Capitol Avenue Lansing, MI 48933.
The showcase will highlight groups that celebrate the diverse contributions that African American families continue to provide to the community. Slated to attend are the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society, the U.S. Census Bureau, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, a African American quilt display, the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame, the 102nd Colored Infantry Reenactors, the Willard Library, the Juneteenth Celebration committee, Black Men Inc., The New Citizens Press and the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.
The celebration will consist of displays and table talks. Guest speakers include retired Michigan State University Geography Professor Morris Thomas and Professor Tukufu Zuberi of PBS' The History Detectives.
On Sunday, February 21, between 2:00 and 3:30 pm. Pulitzer Prize finalist and award-winning journalist Betty DeRamus will be joining CADL for African-American Read-in Day.
Each year they join with over a million others world-wide in a read-in chain. Ms. DeRamus will be reading from her newest book, Freedom by Any Means.
The events are for all ages and everyone is encouraged to attend. For information, contact CADL at 517-367-6346.
Celebrate TNCP’s 9th Anniversary
African American Family History Showcase
Saturday, February 20 - 11 am - 3 pm
at the Capital Area District Library
401 S. Capitol Avenue, Lansing, MI
on the lower level
Visit our table and check out our history.