Historical Association Aims to Tell African American History


(Monday, October 15, 2007 12:58 PM EDT)

Virginia's Hunt Country is rich with history, but it's not always told from the African-American point of view, and that's something the Afro American Historical Association of Fauquier County wants to change.

“We want to preserve [our] history, because it's not documented,” staff researcher Jane Butler said in a recent interview. “Where did we come from? What did our ancestors do? How did they survive harsh treatment?”

Based in The Plains, the organization was founded in 1992 by Karen White and Karen Lavore for the purpose of teaching a complete and accurate history of Fauquier County.

Their office building includes a resource room, which houses numerous documents related to the African-American experience in Fauquier County, including federal, probate, land, military, vital and school records, among others.

Some records from surrounding Prince William, Rappahannock, Culpeper and Loudoun counties also are on file, as well. Additionally, there is a reference library with books including European and American classics and United States history texts on Native Americans and African-Americans.

The building, which is a part of the Underground Rail Road and a stop in the Virginia Time Travelers program, also has a one-room museum, which outlines African-American history, starting with the kings of Africa through to the Civil War, continuing on through World War II and up to the present day.

Butler and other staff are tied personally to the museum, because their ancestors' photos are displayed in the center of the room.

Although the organization's focus is on history and the past, the staff has a clear goal for the future - getting all the information they have out in publications. They also are always looking for documents that make their holdings more complete.

In particular, the members of the organization are hoping to find copies of an African-American newspaper called The Circuit, as well as “black power” books written between 1950 and 1970.

“We're trying to educate people on who we are,” Butler said. “Black people know their history, but no one has asked us. So, now we're doing the asking.”

For more information on the Afro American Historical Association of Fauquier County, call (540) 253-7488.

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