Today’s preservation movement is increasingly committed to saving places that tell a full, inclusive story of our nation’s past. Preservationists are engaging and learning from diverse communities to remedy the biases and oversights of earlier historians. A top-down, one-sided history focused on the great deeds of white men routinely overlooked the contributions of women, people of color, and other underrepresented communities, distorting our understanding of history and our evaluation of which places merit saving.
Last year, at our national conference—PastForward 2015—we convened a “Diversity Summit” to take stock of our movement’s work creating a broader, more representative preservation that champions diversity and inclusion. A panel of preservationists and advocates from many traditionally underrepresented groups tackled issues around saving diverse places, coming to terms with difficult histories—and how both affect contemporary civil rights struggles. Afterward, the audience continued the conversation in breakout groups, and common themes emerged from both conversations.
Diversity Summit attendees applauded the important strides our movement has made but also agreed that we still have a lot of work ahead of us—and that forging stronger partnerships across diverse groups is an essential element of that work. So, too, is the emerging broader vision of preservation that values the modest and even ordinary places where history happened. Most of all, recognizing a full range of stories is key to building an inclusive and allied future.
In this issue of the Forum Journal (which is still available for all), we sought to recapture and build on those powerful conversations. We include video content from PastForward 2015, interviews with heritage professionals on the front lines of advocacy, and articles that spotlight effective diversity and inclusion efforts in preservation:
- Introduction: Our Future Is in Diversity by Stephanie Meeks
- The First Step Is Reaching Out: Toward a Common Ground by Sandi Burtseva
- Diversity and Inclusion at Heritage Organizations by Amanda Davis, Adrena Ifill, and Lily Anne Welty Tamai
- A More Inclusive History of El Paso by Yolanda Chávez Leyva
- Culture Mapping: Engaging Community in Historic Preservation by Claudia Guerra
- Discussions on Broadening Outreach and Programming by Keilah Spann
We hope you will find them both inspiring and relevant to your own preservation work. An authentic representation of the full American story is both a significant opportunity for growth and a moral imperative.#ForumJournal #Diversity #ForumBenefit #DC2015