Mission Statement: The Orange County African-American Historical Society (OCAAHS) was founded to explore African-American contributions to the cultural and historical heritage of Orange County, Virginia. We also seek to enhance and promote awareness of the accomplishments and contributions of people of African descent as organic and essential components of our community, and of our nation, at large. Toward those ends, we endeavor to identify, research and preserve African-American legacies, lore, and historical sites.
Statement in regard to Police Violence against the Black Community:
Dear Orange County Community:
We are a local organization that is deeply committed to the vibrant heritage and future prosperity of African Americans as they have and will continue to relate to themselves as well their extended families of all races and religions, any gender, and every economic status.
We write to express our profound sorrow over the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many others who have lost their lives due to an unjust system of bias against minorities. We know all too well the depth of emotional trauma that now holds the families in a painful embrace. We are also overwhelmed by the vast grief of our nation, and we join in that mourning.
In many cases, individuals can be named as the specific perpetrators of these acts of oppression and, too frequently, fatal violence. However the true offender is an unhealthy and often invisible system that enables the perpetuation of these ills – ills that infect every aspect of American life and sadly obstruct the road to sustainable productivity and fruitfulness for all of us.
The current headlines remind us loudly and unequivocally of the atrocities that African Americans have endured for far, far too long. However, going forward, we must all understand that this is not only a “black, white, religious, gender or age” thing; it is a “human” thing. The mission of our group, the Orange County African American Historical Society (OCAAHS) is to recognize the humanity of African Americans in Orange County, VA. Having said that, our board membership reflects the breadth of the Orange community because it is in this recognition of intersecting lives that we will resolve these harmful issues.
We will continue to raise the volume and expand the narrative collaboratively, with facts, civility, and respect. Although it is tempting to fall back on emotional responses, blaming, and isolation, it is an endless trap. We, individually and collectively, choose to channel our convictions not for the sole purpose of resistance but rather to identify and implement solutions.
We condemn acts of violence and the intrinsic systems that allow and foster inequality and injustice. We, the board of directors of OCAAHS, choose the path of hope, enlightenment, and reconciliation. May we all stand together for a better tomorrow.
The Orange County African American Historical Society, Board of Directors