One Buchanan hosts Black History Month Forum

Published 9:48 am Friday, February 15, 2019

BUCHANAN — February is Black History Month, and as communities across the country are reflecting on the role of black and African Americans on society, culture and the life of the U.S., One Buchanan is also embracing the month as an opportunity to reflect on local black history. From 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, February 24, at the Buchanan Area Senior Center, a discussion forum centered on the topic of black history in Buchanan will feature local figures who will speak about their experiences as black people within the community.

The list of speakers for the Black History Month Forum include Jeanne Harris, Dr. Bernice Clark Patterson, Debbie Wakes, Marie Brown, Mike Busbey, Mo Kyles, JT Williams, Kyra Clark, J.W. Jones, Barbara Kyles and Megan Goodrich. Moderating the forum will be retired Buchanan social studies teacher, Ruth Writer.

The forum will cover such topics as black ancestry of Buchanan, the increase of black residents in Buchanan during the WWII era, black leadership in Buchanan, the role of women in black families in Buchanan, the role of the church in Buchanan’s black history, athletics and more. The forum is the second hosted by One Buchanan, but the first on black history.

One Buchanan is a Buchanan-based community group that focuses its outreach and discussions on racial, ethnic and social minorities that have experienced discrimination, exclusion and disenfranchisement in the country at large, and also in Buchanan, in an effort to celebrate the diversity of Buchanan.

The group officially launched as a public entity in February 2018 and has hosted a Native American Heritage Forum, along with the regular meetings, social hours and other interment special events. The Black History Month forum is another effort of the group to educate the community on the diverse people that comprise the town’s life, culture and history.

“One Buchanan has different events like this to expose the broader community to the diversity that is right here. Buchanan is unique in that way, for town of this size to have such diversity,” said Adam Burck, director of the BASC and marketing director for One Buchanan.

“I specifically hope people will learn more about history of the black community in Buchanan. It’s been interesting for me to learn about the history of black community here. I’m impressed town of this size has as much diversity as it does,” he said.

Ruth Writer sees the forum on Feb. 24 as an opportunity to emphasize local history where some people might find it inaccessible.

“It’s always easy to get history that’s written for national audience,” Writer said. “I think it’s important for entire community to understand contributions of black people economically, politically, athletically, and to understand role of black people in our local history.”

Writer noted some of the unique historical factors about Buchanan in regard to black history, such as the influx of black residents during WWII who came to work at Clark Equipment. Such migrations changed the shape of the Michiana town, all the way to people like Megan Goodrich, who will speaking at the forum about her experience growing up biracial in Buchanan.

“I think in many cases, people don’t know where they can go to express their ideas and have ideas validated, concerns validated and issues validated. It’s good to gather and learn about all different types of ethnic and religious and gender issues,” Writer said.

The Black History Month History forum is open and free to anyone who wants to attend. Refreshments will be provided, and the topics will be open for follow up questions.