In recent weeks thousands of demonstrators have gathered across Tompkins County to protest police brutality and racism in the wake of the recent killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by law enforcement, and Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes. These local protests are part of a global movement that has emerged to protest systemic racism and excessive force used by police departments across America on black and brown bodies.
The problem of unjustified and horrific violence against black and brown people, often at the hands of the police who are tasked to serve the community, is not new. There is a long and grim history behind the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. This history is coupled with the black and brown community's heightened vulnerability to the effects of societal stressors, most recently seen in the disproportionate physical and economic effects of COVID-19. This moment in time has become an inflection point, and black and brown people, with allies of other groups, are seizing it and speaking out with righteous fury and saying, no more.
Protests are spreading across the world in support, and we at The History Center are watching this history in the making, hoping to preserve the parts of it rising in Tompkins County. We are reaching out to the community and asking any of you to contact us with your experiences of this critical moment and send them to us. It could be an email, a diary, a blog, photographs, protest banners and signs, a video or podcast; any form of communication that works for you we would be grateful to receive.
The History Center's Black History Collection will be enhanced with an accompanying Black Lives Matter Collection, and it will become part of the archived history of Tompkins County; used in exhibits, educational programs, and by researchers and students documenting the history of this county. We recognize the current Black Lives Matters protests emerge out of a long history of organizing, and community action in Tompkins County. It is our intent that this archive will also include information about anti-racist efforts from previous years and decades, and the community is encouraged to share their previous recollections of other efforts with us as well. Please email email@example.com with your input at this historic time or visit www.thehistorycenter.net/archives to learn more about this and other collections.