The Hastings organization Building Remembrance for Reconciliation (BR4R) is presenting a Black History Month Celebration from 2-4 p.m. on Feb. 25 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 615 Vermillion St.
“Breaking the Silence: The Movements of Memory” will feature food and music as well as a discussion panel moderated by Benjamin Mchie and creators of the Hate Stings Graphic Novel, James Curry and Tom Nguyen.
Mchie is the founder and executive director of The African American Registry, one of the most comprehensive databases of African American heritage online. It draws more than 80,000 unique visitors every month to its website (aaregistry.org).
The Hate Stings Graphic Novel kickstarter.com account describes the book:
“In the years prior to Emancipation, while the Civil War still raged, a few enslaved Black men and women seized freedom for themselves, regardless of the law and risk to their own lives. Hate Stings reveals for the first time those untold histories based on true events of Reconstruction-era Black Minnesotans highlighting their resilience in the face of racial terror.”
The BR4R organization is dedicated to keeping the stories of early Black families that lived in Hastings and what they went through.
Its website (buildingremembranceforreconcilation.com) states:
“Recent efforts towards racial and social justice, and remembrance and reconciliation, have taught us how important history and memorialization is to our community awareness and change.
“Among the first settlers in Hastings were Black families who came North for better opportunities. They lived, worked, raised their families, fought for the right to vote, and worshipped God here. In 1890 they formed the first African Methodist Episcopal congregation in Hastings, and in 1892 began worshiping in their own church, Brown’s Chapel, on the corner of 5th and Sibley Streets.
“In 1907, Brown’s Chapel was destroyed by fire when arsons cut a screen and lifted the window sash to gain entry. The walls, pews and floor were saturated with kerosene and set on fire. There is no record of the crime being investigated, and the culprits were never officially identified or charged.
“Our hope is that in telling the stories of these early Black families that called Hastings’ home and understanding the impact of this incident and many like it had on the community, will help us create racial and economic justice in the present.”