A Message to the Community

A Message to the Community

3 June 2020

At the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, we envision a community inspired by local history. While there is much to be proud of, we also recognize our own community’s history of racism, intolerance, violence, and injustice.

Today we stand with Black Lives Matter and people of color who have once again been literally beaten down. We stand with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and others, as well as with those in our Northwest Arkansas community and across the nation who seek justice.

Mr. Floyd’s murder and the reactions to it should not be a surprise. Our own Arkansas Ozarks history is rife with racism and violence that have unequally impacted communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants. Part of our work at the museum is to help others see Mr. Floyd’s death not as a single horrendous event, but a part of the ugly history we must own.

Our collections, exhibits, and research library hold the stories of some of these tragedies. However, we need to do better in our collecting, exhibiting, and archiving. Just as we are now proactively collecting the stories and images of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northwest Arkansas, we must increasingly collect the stories and images from people who wish to share their own experiences with civil rights violations and violence. We must also make our community aware of our resources that may offer context for our shared history.

Likewise our role as a museum is also to educate about and celebrate diversity. We are proud of our work in that area through programming, exhibits, and events, but we need to strengthen that work, engage in constructive dialogue, and encourage listening, learning, and understanding.

The tragic events that led to Mr. Floyd’s death are deeply rooted in our country and have at least in part unfolded due to a lack of knowledge and empathy. In collecting and sharing our community’s stories, and in encouraging learning and celebrating diversity, the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History hopes to serve Northwest Arkansas by educating and inspiring action that can lead to a more equitable community.

Allyn Lord