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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Education & Student Activism
California African American Heritage at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
Imagine the impact on society of people of African Ancestry were part of the daily Sutter's Fort, State Historical Park Tourist and Educational experience. People of African Ancestry provided financial venture capital, agriculture products, cooking, barrel making, personal military escort, fur trapping, scouting and much, much more... today it is hidden deep with the California State Archives and California State Library awaiting statutory authority to share an authentic legacy.
Sacramento, California ~ Essential contributions by people of African Ancestry remains an open secret, hidden from an everyday experience at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park and throughout many of the California State Parks along the American River Parkway.
The late Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally, served as US Congressman, California Lt. Governor, and two separate occasions in the California Legislature. In 2004 he authored AB 59, stating, “there is a great amount of institutional and historical evidence of contributions of African-Americans to the history and culture of the state and in many instances these facts have been distorted or revised. Therefore there is a need to preserve the contributions of various institutions, events, and individual.”
The proposed measure, AB 59 (Dymally) 2003-2004, passed overwhelmingly in both the Assembly and Senate only to suffer a humiliating defiant veto message by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Today, AB 783 (Weber)2017-2018, authored by Dr. Shirley Weber, reintroduces similar legislation that continues to labor within a strange amendment process seeking a first committee hearing. One bright day, we will showcase the need and share profound examples of the significant contributions made by people of African Ancestry throughout the Great State of California.
Historically, the vast diversity and recognition of African presence both in scientific documentation and oral traditions predates California European conquest in 1535. Early Spanish, British, Russian, French and Mexican pioneers share primary source documentation of the presence and significant contribution by people of African Ancestry in Pre-American California. During the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848, the conquest of Alta California hastened by the California Gold Rush, help create the 31st state of the Union.
People of African ancestry held leading and supporting roles in both Mexico and United States, at Sutter’s Fort 1840-1850, a powerful and profound example of our unique journey toward freedom along the American River Parkway and throughout the State of California.
Community stakeholders and sponsors are ready to support establishing the legal statutory authorization creating an autonomous California African American Heritage Commission; thereby officially qualifying and quantifying the salient contributions by people of African ancestry, as originally envisioned by Honorable Mervyn Dymally, from the back side of Mt. Shasta to the Salton Sea.
Global educators and community stakeholders offer a 21st century examination of early Black Pioneers in Gold Rush California that continue to uncover and expand recognition of the contributions made by people of African ancestry at Sutter’s Fort and throughout the American River Parkway.
Together, we must remove the distortion and share authentic history in the California Gold Rush Era, 1840-1875. Recently, California State Parks official have reorganized archival period documents at Sutter’s Fort, catalogued for future generations to study, appreciate and share with the world.
Many public and private institutions often share scholarship, resources and relational database information thereby providing consistent, careful and concerned scholastic opportunity toward discovery and dissemination, one day it will happen with our California African American Heritage.
Why not actualize equity and inclusion as part of the daily presence at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park and throughout the American River Parkway? Imagine the possibilities valuing and sharing the essential contributions by people of African Ancestry with all visitors and educators.
Old Sacramento State Historic Park, Sutter’s State Historic Parks, Negro Bar State Historic Park and Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, and other points of interest along the American River Parkway, the Ole Historic Coloma Trail, will one day showcase for the world to experience African American Heritage from Old Sacramento Embarcadero, Sutter’s Fort, Rancho Rio De Los Americanos, Historic Folsom, arriving at the site that sparked, “The World Rushing In’ during the California Gold Rush,” beginning January 1848.
It is long past time, to dust off the old source documents and collaborate with our California Archives and California State Library utilizing Legislative direction, working hand in hand with the California African American Heritage Commission; researching, documenting, preserving and sharing the authentic contributions by people of African ancestry throughout California and beyond.
Starting with Sutter’s Fort State Historical Park, a formal collaborative partnership with leading public and private institutions of higher learning offers new exciting job creation and career opportunities in a plethora of opportunities embracing cultural tourism and historical preservation.
Both conservative and progressive political leaders at the International, Federal, State and Local level are poised to embrace an expanding notion of celebrating our diversity, it is time to reconsider and act upon finally including our authentic and unique California African American Heritage, beginning with the “Our Journey Toward Freedom in the California Gold Rush Era (1840-1875)”
Michael Harris, Executive Secretary
California African American Heritage Commission