Saturday, December 27, 2014

Where Are the African-American Historic Landmarks in St. Helena and Tangipahoa Parishes?

Church in Reid's Community, Amite, LA 
I've traveled throughout St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes searching for one historical African American landmark. There are several places that should be preserved as National Historic Landmarks.  

Sweet Home Folklife Museum in Kentwood, LA.,  mission is to preserve African ancestry celebrated with artifacts in the museum, crafts, a walk through the Nature Trail, storytelling and you can witness an outdoor Baptism in Cool Creek. 

The African American Heritage Museum & Veteran Archives is dedicated to preserving, maintaining and educating the public on the history of African-American ancestors in the State of Louisiana and Tangipahoa Parish in collaboration with other entities of cultural interest throughout the United States of America and aboard through artistic endeavors.

Where are the places where African Americans pioneers lived, raised their family, the location where an important even took place, the home of someone who left a legacy in the community?  Whether its a school, a church or building that hold special memories that are important to you and the community. These landmarks help tell the story of the people who make up the fabric of their community.

The National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places invites you to explore the history and culture of Southeastern Louisiana, featuring historic places along the Mississippi River. African- American people in St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes has a rich heritage that needs to be preserved. One church comes to mind in the Reid Community in Amite, LA, a little church that should be on the preserved list. In Roseland, LA, there is the Big Zion School where African American students attended classes before integration.

Sweet Home Folklife Museum, Kentwood, LA
Because of social media, African-Americans from both parishes are sharing more photographs of family members and photographs from the earlier years. I was inspired to start a collection for photographs and other records at Southeastern Louisiana Studies three years ago. This collection is rich in photographs, funeral programs, church programs, family history and other documents of the people who live in both parishes.

It’s very disappointing to see so many people from St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes, who graduated from Southern University and Grambling State University not working to preserve historic landmarks, the history of the local people and the history of African American people. Many families have been in the parishes since these parishes were formed. I hope that the alumni of these schools and other social organizations can come together to preserve the history before it is lost.