The African American Historical Society of Rockland County: Linking/Preserving the Cultures of the African Diaspora
The current African American Historical Society of Rockland County received its charter on May 23, 2006. This event was the culmination of many months of hard work and dedicated planning. The revival process began when Willie Trotman, President of the Spring Valley NAACP, had the idea to create a heritage center for the celebration and study of people of the African Diaspora. He quickly received material and moral support from Drs. Susan and Edmund Gordon, founders of The CEJJES Institute, since the charter of the institute provides for such an initiative. The organizers called for individuals in the community and representatives from various community organizations to form a planning group for the Rockland African Diaspora Heritage Center.
This large committee realized that it could build on the legacy of a predecessor group: The African American Historical Society of Rockland County, established by Dr. Jacquelyn Holland and others in 1994. That Society was active for five years in the county, doing historical research, publishing a newsletter, and promoting the history and culture of African Americans in Rockland, but it became inactive in 1999 due to the ill health or death of its members. So, because of the predecessor group’s noble service and excellent reputation, the planning committee for the African Diaspora Heritage Center decided to revive the predecessor group and to expand its focus in view of the cultural diversity of peoples of the African Diaspora in Rockland County, adding the tagline “Linking/Preserving the Cultures of the African Diaspora.” This revived African American Historical Society of Rockland County received its Provisional Charter from The Regents in May of 2006 and received its amended and extended Provisional Charter on June 21, 2011.
The revived AAHS of Rockland was initially provided with equipment and office space at The CEJJES Institute and was invited to collaborate with CEJJES in the establishment of The Rockland African Diaspora Heritage Center (RADHC) that has been established on the campus of The CEJJES Institute. Thus, there is a close bond between CEJJES and the AAHS. In addition, these organizations have collaborated on several initiatives and look forward to continued collaboration in the future. The AAHS has spearheaded several major programs in the county. These include the Visit of the Re-Created Amistad Freedom Schooner in 2006, the production of “A Mighty River: Contributions of the Peoples of the African Diaspora to the Economic Development along the Lower Hudson River” in 2009 and 2010, and the major exhibition and related scholarly and cultural presentations related to “IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas,” that explored the connections between people of African American and Native American ancestry including historical, cultural, genealogical, etc. These programs have been enjoyed by hundreds of individuals within and outside Rockland, especially school children.
The Trustees of the AAHS of Rockland
- Jamila Brathwaite – President
- James Johnson – Secretary
- Dana Stilley – Treasurer
- Holly Zuber-Banks
- Dr. Claude Brathwaite
- Hon. Toney Earl
- Kenneth Jackson
- Drusilla Kinzonzi
- Willie Trotman
- Margaret Tuitt
- Dr. Arlene Clinkscale – Trustee Emeritus