By Henry Feuss
Community Development Department
City of Sacramento
Sacramento’s Historic Preservation staff has been hard at work working with the community to document Black History in Sacramento over the past year.
The African American Experience Project, the first of its kind in Sacramento, is chronicling the stories of Black residents, including the hardships they faced, the successes they achieved and the legacies they established. A collaboration between the City of Sacramento’s historic preservation office and California State University, Sacramento, the project is funded by a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with the goal of increasing awareness of Black history and cultural resources in Sacramento.
“It is important for African American residents to tell their story using their voice,” said Lynette Hall, City’s community engagement manager. “Historically, African American voices have been diluted and this project aims to get it right and the only way we can do it is having input directly from the community. As we are seeing neighborhoods change and transition, it is imperative that we document how it was for future generations.”
City of Sacramento staff are inviting Black residents to share stories of living in Sacramento by recording oral history interviews and submitting them through their online portal. The project also has its drafted overview of history document available to view, which tells the history of the first migration of Black residents and their legacy to build a life in Sacramento, up until the 1980s. The community is encouraged to provide input on what may be missing or incorrect and to submit copies of photos and historic documents they want to be held in the City’s official archive.
“Although some landmark listings of Black historical resources occurred previously, the AAE Project is the City’s first successful, grant-funded, community-partnership effort to develop an overview history of African Americans in Sacramento and to identify, at a citywide level, historical resources associated with African Americans” says project co-director, Carson Anderson.
City staff have held 8 public meetings in various locations throughout the city in an effort to reach as many members of the public as possible, with over 350 copies of the draft historic research distributed to various organizations, libraries, and members of the public. Released in November 2022, the public comment period for the first draft historic research closed at the end of February, with the entire project expected to conclude in June 2023. However, the City will continue to accept stories and documents in perpetuity in an effort to ensure history is recorded and accessible for all.
Anyone with questions or comments is encouraged to contact the project team at AAE@cityofsacramento.org.