Today and tomorrow, the American people will be doing lots of remembering, for Memorial Day which originally was meant to honor the lives of military personnel and of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre in which Greenwood, the Black neighborhood known as ‘Black Wall Street’ was razed to the ground, murdered by a mob of their White neighbors. The centennial of this crime comes in a year laden with the pain of lives lost to coronavirus (Black and Brown people were more likely to have obstacles to accessing vaccines, more likely to be exposed to the virus through work in high-contact jobs, and more likely to die if hospitalized.). This year also bears the recent memory of the brutal murders of George Floyd by a police officer, Ahmaud Arbery by his neighbors, and Breonna Taylor in her own home, while she was sleeping. More than ever it seems, the world has taken note of the violence against BIPOC people and yet, it remains to be seen whether the tide of response will build, continue, or simply wane out.
As someone trained in museum education, I’ve given a lot of thought to remembering, not just through exhibits or memorialization, but through the offer of space (mental, physical and virtual) and time to process and honor pain and loss. This is the time to make new stories and build new opportunities, weaving the past into our present and building the future.
Over the summer, we will be working towards this future. The Willie & Elizabeth Gordon Family Foundation exists to honor the journey of our ancestors by pursuing education, excellence, and empowerment. We memorialize those who came before us by creating the opportunities they could only dream of.
There’s no good way to end this post except to acknowledge our context, an unfinished and painful history which has led to a painful present. All we can do is keep our faith and hope and remember why.