Client: Penn Hills NAACP Unit # 2278, Penn Hills, PA.
Project: Create campaign to express the goals of the Chapter. “It’s like you read my mind” – Joyce Davis, Chapter President
Telling our story for ourselves….what exactly does that mean? Is it just some catchy phrase that sounds good but has no substance to it? Or is it the finely-nuanced result of some marketing focus group? No, and no. Although I do hope that it is memorable enough to “catch on”. “Telling our story for ourselves” is the slogan – and newly adopted mission – of Penn Hills NAACP Unit #2278.
“Telling our story for ourselves” is a phrase with deep meaning. For far too long we, as a community, a people, and a nation, have allowed others (media, historians, politicians, et al) to control what stories are told, and equally importantly, HOW they are told. It is vital that we begin to take control of the public narrative. We must tell the story of our past. We must tell the story of our present. And we must write and tell the story of our future. We must tell our story accurately and honestly. We must tell our story and omit nothing. We must celebrate good. We must condemn the ugly. As the 20th Century philosopher George Santayana said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. His quote is often expressed as “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” You see, simply remembering the past is not enough. We must learn and grow from it. But yet, we must be careful to not continue to live in it. We must remember, realize, and honor the sacrifices of those who came before. We must not use the memories of the past to “justify” the (sometime) ugliness of the present and future.
Telling our story for ourselves is also a call to be united. This does not mean that telling “my story” or “your story” isn’t important, but we must not let that lead to fragmentation that ultimately divides us. There is power when “my story” and “your story” are rolled into one “our story”. The longer we allow our individual stories to be told in isolation (or worse yet, hidden in isolation) the longer we allow ourselves to be held powerless. Together we can exert our power. Alone we are easy to ignore. Together we can solve our problems. Together we can heal our community. Alone we will continue to suffer hurt and loss. Together we can serve our brothers and sisters in honor of our fathers and mothers. Alone we only serve oneself.
Two-thousand and eighteen will be a significant mile post in the history of Penn Hills NAACP Unit #2278. Won’t you please join us on our journey?