The African-American Heritage Society, Mother Wit Institute, the Chappie James Museum, the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network (FAAHPN) and Black history preservationists joined forces to discuss, strategize, and raise funds to move forward on a transformative agenda of heritage tourism. The FAAHPN is a professional association organized in 2001 by the John Gilmore Riley Center Museum.
Following a Northwest Florida Region Meeting of the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network on Friday, October 30th; the Mother Wit Institute, Inc. (spearheaded by Georgia and Johnny Blackmon, Kristal Johnson, Debra Rodney, and Rose Salter) held an event on Saturday October 31st titled “Campaigning to Save the Historical Ella Jordan Home” at the First United Methodist Church’s The Wright Place at 6 East Wright Street in Downtown Pensacola. Marion “Missy” McGee, an official in the statewide network who also serves as the Executive Director of the John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History spoke at both events.
Heritage Tourism is gaining steam in Pensacola and Escambia County as exemplified by the recent visit of Ms. McGee. Althemese Barnes, the Founder of the Riley Museum and the Florida Network, mentored McGee for her present positions. At the Friday meeting, McGhee facilitated a training session and a sharing of strategic information on heritage preservation with the local African-American Heritage groups gathered at the headquarters of the African-American Heritage Society, the Coulson House, in the Historical Pensacola Village to discuss the following: Technical Assistance to Museum & Historic Preservation Professionals, Grant Reporting, Compliance, and Fundraising, Technology’s Role in the Visitor Experience, and Audience Development.
The Saturday event was hosted by Reginald Dogan of the Studer Institute. Georgia Blackmon presented the Occasion, and the speaker was introduced by Carol McIntosh, the President of the Progressive Black Women Coalition, Inc.
McGhee showed her business acumen combined with her heritage preservation expertise as she articulated the courage of Ms. Ella Jordan to have developed the home during the challenging times during the depression and segregation. She made it a point of her presentation to speak on how the African-American youth can learn about the legacy of leaders like Jordan and others who have made their mark on their communities. She added that the impact of the preservation movement is “not just for locals, but for visitors that come to Pensacola and learn to appreciate the culture of the community”.
There is a growing interest in preserving Florida’s African American culture that of the African Diaspora, and the FAAHPN serves as the premier informational and technical assistance resource in the State of Florida in response to the growing demand. The network also produces the Florida Black Heritage Trail Guide which is a publication that details African American landmarks and legacies that exist in various locations throughout the state of Florida. Though much of Florida’s African American History has been lost, this publication demonstrates a growing interest in documenting and preserving all that remains.
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