Footsteps to You: Chattel Slavery” (Footsteps to You) Exhibit and School Program was among the San Bernardino County programs recognized as part of the 2019 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). San Bernardino programs that aim to help young people prepare for the workforce, improve the health of residents, promote literacy and simplify access to public serves were among 52 programs awarded this year—the highest number of NACo awards ever won by the county. The Footsteps to You exhibit, awarded in the category of Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation, opened at the San Bernardino County Museum in November 2018, and traveled to the museum’s Victor Valley Museum branch in April 2019. It seeks to achieve several objectives including to develop visitor’s cultural literacy, foster historical empathy, and build personal resilience. The exhibit was initially developed with a target audience of 4th through 12th grade field trip students and teachers in mind yet its successful run has increased attendance from older audiences, and significantly attracted African American visitors and other people of color. Its display of primary artifacts introduces the concept of historical empathy, a means of achieving deeper understanding of the lived experiences of people from the past. The exhibits first-person accounts, newspaper articles, and original objects of the slave trade successfully puts those who view the exhibit in the shoes of those that were subjected to this treatment. It also provides insight into the actions of people that overcame their situation, while also introducing the stories of individuals that stood for change when others did not—or, could not. The exhibit is drawn from the collection of Jerry Gore, a retired administrator of Morehead State University who passed away in 2016, and the Black Voice Foundation, located in San Bernardino and the current steward of this important collection. Since 2010, San Bernardino County has won 336 achievement awards from NACo, an organization that honors innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services for local residents. “We are so proud that we broke our own record…” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman commenting on this year’s record-breaking success. In addition to awards in the category of Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation, the county won awards in the following categories—Children and Youth, Civic Education and Public Information, Community and Economic Development, County Administration and Management, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Health, Human Services, Information Technology, Libraries and Personnel Management, Employment and Training.
Header Photo: Hardy Brown II, curator