What is the Enduring Families Project?
The Enduring Families Project is an inter-woven two-part venture exploring the local history of African-Americans and other non-white settlers. The two arms include a public school-based educational program and community-based historical reenactments. The Project is under the fiscal sponsorship of the La Crosse County Historical Society.
The goals of the Enduring Families Project are to build a more cohesive multicultural community through an inclusive history, to provide venues for community discussions and to create opportunities for direct interactions between the diverse peoples of La Crosse.
In the 2018-2019 academic year, the Project plans on bringing historical reenactments into the schools. These historical theatrical monologues will be accompanied by the Project's study guide, deepening students' discussion and understanding of the material. By bringing this story to life through the medium of reenactments students will experience, close up, the little-known story of the non-white settlers, promoting within the student body a respect for and appreciation of these people in La Crosse's history.
Seeing oneself as a genuine part of history with the positive portrayal of the contributions of non-white people builds a feeling of legitimacy and a sense of belonging creating an atmosphere where self-respect and self-esteem can be nourished. This is particularly important in our youth because here is the soil where self-worth, empowerment, and resiliency flourish.
The community component is the second arm of the Enduring Families Project. The historical re-enactments are a portrayal of the contributions and obstacles faced and overcome by people of color. These are unique opportunities to provide both education and a venue for interaction among La Crosse's community members. Recently at the local Juneteenth Celebration(June 2018), the African-American Independence Day, the Enduring Families Project produced an "African-American Living History" bus tour which was well received. Several other community-based re-enactments have been scheduled.
Because acting opportunities for non-whites are limited in the La Crosse area, these reenactments will also be an occasion for the involvement of talented African-American and other non-white artists.
Extensive and ongoing research is the bedrock of the Project and it will provide the backbone for its creative components. Rebecca Mormann-Krieger, the primary Project researcher, and scriptwriter has spent nearly two years (2016-2018) researching the La Crosse area's history of early non-white settlers. Her research along with significant contributions from local historians Richard Frost, Teri Wachuta, and Bruce Mouser will furnish the content for the material used in the Project.
This research material and primary documents will be given to the schools to be used in their classrooms for curriculum development and to complement their libraries. The La Crosse Historical Society has already received original source material and anticipates more to come.
Denise Christy-Moss, the Producer, is bringing this Project to fruition by engaging and harnessing the enthusiasm, energy, and collaboration of La Crosse's theater people, teachers, historians, storytellers, media, actors, schools, foundations, historical society and local African-American groups.
The Enduring Families Project, by centering its content on African-American and other non-white peoples' history and experiences, will benefit La Crosse's community by enhancing understanding and building mutual respect, creating a space for a more cohesive and inclusive environment.