After the African heritage organization Africorp folded, Bridgeport resident Gilbert Davis took it upon himself to continue the celebration of African culture and history by founding the African-American Historical Association of Fairfield County in 2005.
Davis had been a member of Africorp’s historical wing as well as an employee of the Bridgeport Public Library’s history collections department, so he was the right man for the job.
Celebrating African culture and ideals, while educating the world on the great oasis of conviviality and conceptual kindness that is the history of ancient Africa, the group headquartered in Bridgeport, is now in the midst of creating a first-of-its-kind combination museum and cultural center in Fairfield County.
“Under the umbrella of one expansive house of knowledge, we propose to delve into the ramparts of African language, dance and collected cultural mementos and authentic sculpture, weaponry and art,” said Davis, who recently hosted the annual Carter G. Woodson Memorial Commemorative Banquet and Awards Ceremony for African Americans of extraordinary achievement in Fairfield County along with AAHA’s vice-president, Joseph Wilcox, Henry Timberlake and Keith Purdie.
The award is named after the first black scholar to venerate the African historical experience as a worthwhile treasure. Woodson is thought of as The Father of Black History in America.
This year’s awardees included Ted Meekins,–one of the first black police officers in Bridgeport during the mid-70s and Earley Pettway, Bridgeport’s first black Deputy Fire Chief in the Bridgeport Fire Department.
“At our 4th Annual Carter G. Woodson Event, I had personally been moved and left somewhat apoplectic at the sheer volume of history and living, breathing gravitas in human form literally walking in human form all around me,” remarked L. Llewellyn James, Director of Special Projects with the AAHA.
AAHA currently has a newsletter reaching 1,000, a governing council of six to eight and membership of 20.
“We are always looking to increase opportunities for any individuals willing to work and convene onto our common goal of creating something memorable, functional and culturally rich in Bridgeport,” said Davis.
On March 30, in commemoration of Women’s History Month, AAHA will sponsor a special panel symposium on the plight of women on color in the 21st century at the Burroughs-Saden Main Branch of the Bridgeport Public Library, 925 Broad Street, between 5-7:30 p.m.
Entitled The First Annual Sojourner Truth Serum and Politically Topical Solution Symposium: Hard Doses of Reality on the plight of Women of Color in Our World, guest panelists will include Diana Black, host of News You Can Use on WDJZ 1530 AM, Che’ri Humphrey, Co-Host of Taking Back Our Community on WVOF 88.5 FM and Angela Joseph of the Office of Education at the Connecticut Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.
“Our purpose here includes the establishing of a permanent home for an African Museum and Cultural Center in Bridgeport, along with the comprehensive goal of successfully intimating to the public at large an appreciation of the wealth of substantial benefit inherent in the philosophies of African Culture,” said Davis.
Davis added that L. Llewellyn James is so tuned in to how the group can be transformed through the internet and social media, that it’s often difficult to keep up with him.
“He had been running literally 1000 miles per minute, spouting a plethora of ideas to our Director of Communications, Joy Purdie, who could scarcely write them all down in the minutes of the first meeting he had attended,” said Davis. “So many people dedicate their time, resources and experiences to this grand idea, that often we amuse ourselves with the rapid-fire deluge of suggestions we often find ourselves bombarded by.”
Upcoming events include the 12th annual Day of Remembrance commemoration of the African slave trade at Seaside Park in August.
“This day of remembrance is simply dedicated to the ideal of realizing the impact of the middle passage and its accompanying ferrying of African men and women into the Americas, as we attempt to take a moment to recognized the sacrifices, turmoil and challenges faced by our ancestors as they approached these shores in fettered chains,” said Davis.