Part of the Patchwork: Reflections of African-American Life in the History Center Archives
March – December, 2017
Inspired by the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and as a Smithsonian affiliate, the San Diego History Center looked to its own archives to see what stories of African-American life in our region could be uncovered. The photographs, documents, and oral histories displayed here are the result of that investigation. With all its nuance and complexity, telling a full and comprehensive story of the African-American community is a monumental task for any archives or collection. This means that the story presented here is incomplete. For the San Diego History Center, the work of collecting our region’s history—and especially that of underrepresented cultures and communities—remains a cornerstone of our mission yet is also a work in progress. The snapshot you see here is evidence of progress but there is much more work to be done.
This exhibit, therefore, provides unique glimpses into the lives of the African-American community that settled in the San Diego region, as well as the Black and multi-racial population that existed here during the Mexican and Spanish eras. From Pío Pico’s governorship to the protests over housing discrimination, this exhibit spotlights a handful of events, people, and organizations that contributed to the African-American experience here. Through documents, stories, photographs, maps, and video we are able to examine this community. We can look at the obstacles overcome and the issues that have yet to be resolved. This exhibit also illustrates the many ways African-Americans have shaped our region and reminds us that the San Diego of today is the result of a diverse patchwork of people.