In our inaugural “First Thursday” of 2016, CCHM will once again host the First Families project to honor Black History Month. Launched in February 2008, this local history project gathered the memories of African Americans who came to Vancouver seeking wartime jobs in the 1940s, settled here with their families, and made this place their home. Why? The answer was simple: “Because we liked it here!”
In 2012, a sampling of family stories were woven into a book entitled First Families of Vancouver’s African American Community: From World War Two to the Twenty-First Century. This was accomplished with support from Vancouver’s NAACP Branch #1139 (chartered by these settlers in 1945) and funding from Humanities Washington, Black United Fund of Oregon, Clark County, and many other donors, volunteers, and corporate sponsors.
But this was just the beginning. Many more memories have yet to be shared. The project’s next phase, First Families Forward, is finding ways to build on this foundation by continuing to highlight the story of African Americans in Vancouver – an aspect of our local and regional experience that is no less vital and essential for being often overlooked.
At CCHM on February 4, 2016, First Families Forward invites the community into the discussion. A panel introduced by keynote speaker Rev. Marva J. Edwards, president of Vancouver NAACP #1139, and moderated by Nathan Webster, founding director of Dream Big Community Center, offers plans and ideas about how we came this far and where we might go from here.
Admission to the Museum is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for children under 18, and free with CCHM membership. Doors will open at 5:00pm for socializing and viewing Museum exhibits. The program will begin promptly at 7:00.
Join CCHM for this fascinating glimpse at our collective past and future. Copies of the First Families book may be purchased at the museum for $20.00. For more information and questions, please contact us through email or by phone at 360-993-5679. We offer local history at your fingertips!
“The accomplishments of Vancouver’s first African American families, who built a strong and lasting community here during and after the shipyard expansion of World War II, nourished the spirit of their chosen hometown in ways that are still evident today. The core of their legacy lies in what they have to teach us all about how families can empower and sustain a whole community.”
– from First Families mission statement, 2008