To help the Black race and the White race get to know each other. To become friends. To help the NorthSide (Black residents mostly, where this Library is located) reach out in courage and become part of the larger community. To participate and become functioning members of this City and any City. To help the White population realize the chains and worries that Black History still holds and support Blacks in their efforts to be free. To put their arms around each other and say, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what has been done to your race. How can I help you”
As President Obama has said, “The past isn’t over – it’s not even past”
This Library hopes to facilitate such a discussion. To try to talk about this very difficult subject and to become at least somewhat knowledgeable about Black History. To have this conversation about race however, you need to know a little at least about what you are talking about. Hence the Library part. Blacks know, they have lived it. We Whites have just read about it.
Some Whites still believe in (one version or another) the “40 acres and a mule story” Weren’t you compensated – or what’s the big deal – you were freed. The Emancipation Proclamation did that. That I know.”
Not exactly, I interject. I tell Blacks, “You know – you have lived it. I have only read about it. There is a big (as in BIG) difference!
So we Whites need to discuss with Blacks what impact race has had on them. Would life have been different if you had been white
Hence the books, materials, displays, discussions etc. and the frank talk about race. What really happened? Why is it a problem? Will it never end?
In my opinion, as a retired psychologist, if you name it, you can tame it but only if you name it. Left under the bed or in the bushes, it only grows and grows. Race and all its ramifications needs to be discussed. This Library was built specifically for that purpose.
Churches in Sedalia as probably elsewhere are also quite segregated, although all profess friendship. But White churches in general don’t like to use the terms, “Black and White” – maintaining we are equal in God’s sight. Which is no doubt true, but not true on earth!!
Marge Harlan, (retired psychologist)
Founder of the Rose M. Nolen Black History Library