Learning the Real History of Memorial Day Made Us Reflect on the Festival

Credit: Afrolatin@ Project Archive

Credit: Afrolatin@ Project Archive

Memorial Day is generally thought of as a day of remembrance. Its also about storytelling and the construction of our historical memories, what stories we remember or are encouraged to remember. 

We recently learned that the 1st Memorial Day was actually started May 1, 1865 by freed slaves honoring black soldiers killed by the confederacy during the U.S. Civil War and that the Statue of Liberty was originally intended to honor freed slaves (not immigrants as the official narrative portrays). 

This got us reflecting on these years theme "Reclaiming Culture+Spaces" and one of the key reason's we do this Festival. As the Festival grows, its always important to refocus, recommit and share. The Festival supports and is supported by the work of the Afrolatin@ Project, our 501(c)(3) non-profit. As the Project curates the AfrolatinTalks & Awards portion of the Festival, the Festival in turn gives a portion of proceeds from our events towards continuing the preservation work of the Project.

There are only a handful of Afrolatinx focused non-profits in the US. The Project is the ONLY Afrolatinx oral history archive that currently exists in the WORLD and one of very few digital archives about us. After the Project's founder, George Priestley, died 10 years ago, we realized there were few, efforts to document and preserve the narratives of Black Latinxs generally, but especially the work of those who set the stage for a new generation to push forward with the current conversation around Afrolatinidad.    Inspired by Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, we realized the importance of preserving our narratives and cultural heritage and set out to create such a resource.

The mission of the Afrolatin@ Project is to serve as a digital resource center and archive for the historical and material documentation and preservation of the cultures, histories and experiences of Afrodescendant people in the Americas and the Caribbean and to facilitate collaborations and programs that advance Afrolatin@ Studies and grass root activities.

These are the faces of some of the 100+ Afrolatinx oral histories and interviews we have recorded and archived from more than 15+ countries. 

Know that when you celebrate community, music and culture, you not only help the Festival and our community gain more visibility; you also help document and preserve Afrolatinx history, past and present.
Let's party with a purpose, because now more than ever, if we dont tell our story someone else might and not the way it should be told. 

Well have more in the coming months as we work to redevelop the website. Thanks for your continued support and interest. 

Seguimos Palante

2014 Afrolatin@s Presente Kickstarter Video by The Afrolatin@ Project