The Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network (FAAHPN), at this point in time, should be considered to be divided into two genres. The first began as a way to bring people who were concerned with preserving the history and culture of people of African descent together while at the same time assisting each other to become more involved in the overall historic preservation movement in Florida. It involved constant interaction between one another and sometimes individual efforts on the behalf of the whole. During this genre, a cultural bond was created throughout the state which advanced the preservation of African American culture. Museum directors of African American cultural institutions began to become more involved in the overall cultural and heritage preservation by serving on grant panels and review committees. Florida as a whole began to understand and embrace the unique relationship between the Florida and African descendants. Museum directors were advancing themselves as well through this participation with other cultural entities by participating in meetings and webinars. From this participation, ideas of sustainability in the areas of heritage tourism, museum governance, and future leadership developed. Through these efforts, FAAHPN has been molded into the country’s leader for statewide African American heritage preservation.
Today, FAAHPN moves into the second genre of historic preservation in Florida. This genre is concerned primarily with ideas of expansion and sustainability. By standing on a firm foundation of collaboration and information sharing, FAAHPN continues to seek ways to advance the preservation movement within communities as well as throughout the state as a whole. FAAHPN also seeks ways to continue to bridge the gap between black communities and heritage tourism by demonstrating the positive economic impact that heritage tourism has on a community.
As more people of African descent began to preserve their history in the state, FAAHPN assumes a more significant leadership role in guiding these efforts particularly in the area of sustainability. For example, recognition of the significant contributions of Afro Caribbean peoples in Florida has become vital as the state celebrates its 500 year history. Collaborating and interacting with museums and entities dedicated to the Afro Caribbean experience in Florida allows FAAHPN to ensure an increased awareness of the relationship between Florida and African descendants as a whole. FAAHPN continues to assist museums that are advancing in the areas of governance, collection development, and sustainability. By sharing information through meetings, direct contact, and our statewide bi-annual conference, FAAHPN is expanding the preservation of the African Diaspora in Florida through collaboration.
We welcome you to join us during these exciting times for heritage preservation in Florida. Remember, “It is our responsibility and duty to preserve our history”. Join us…….
Anthony E. Dixon, Ph.D.