As you may know if you live in Kansas City, the Black Archives of Mid-America recently celebrated a reopening at its location in the 18th and Vine district.
So I first looked on its website to see what it had on religion, given how central a role faith -- especially the black church -- has played over the years in the life of African-Americans here and elsewhere. To see the Archives' online section on religion, click here.
And I contacted the executive director, Doretha Williams (pictured here), so I could talk to her about any plans she had to expand that section of the collection.
Indeed, she already is planning a gathering of clergy some time this fall to seek their help in exactly that task. Why?
Well, no other institution has been as important to the black community than the church. You can get some sense of that in this 2009 piece from the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch as well as from this Wikipedia entry on the black church.
As Williams told me, a lot of the social activism that blacks historically have engaged in, including the civil rights movement, found its roots in the black church.
Thus, the subject of religion "is near the top in what we want to collect and what we want to represent," she said. "It plays a large role."
The history of religion in the black community of Kansas City (and elsewhere) goes beyond Christianity, of course. And Williams said the Black Archives would be reaching out to all faith communities to ask for help in collecting good material for the institution. So if you're part of a predominantly Africa-American community of faith, contact Williams to see how your congregation might help or contribute to the Archives.
(The top photo here today shows part of the current exhibit at the Archives that includes religion.)
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MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. -- A reminder, in case you missed my note over the weekend: I'm here for a family reunion most of this week. So although there will be regular blog posts, there usually won't be additional news items and commentary until I return and resume me allegedly normal schedule. Enjoy the Olympics with the time you'd usually spend reading the extras here.