History – use it or lose it?

In 2021, Columbia will be celebrating its 200th anniversary, but will this be a celebration of all of our history or only the history of a few?

The next meeting of the Mayor’s Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning Meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2018, in the Community Room Walton Building 300 South Providence.

Will some history be lost like the memory of log cabins like the one inside the house at 121 West Blvd. North? Or will people step forward to get involved?

121 West Blvd historic picture of log cabin with ladder. Courtesy of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography.
121 West Blvd historic picture of log cabin with a ladder. Courtesy of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography.

At the task force’s first meeting in February 2018, it set three goals for the celebration.

— It should be inclusive of all of Columbia, celebrating the history of all of the city’s population, from the rich to the poor, from the young to the old and all ethnicities including immigrants.
— The celebrations should be fun and entertaining.
— The bicentennial task force should help to create something lasting, something to leave a mark for the future, whether that includes lesson plans for grade and high school children or a piece of artwork in the Flat Branch area, which is where Columbia got its start.

Here are the names of the task force members:
Brent Gardner
Pat Fowler
Nate Brown
Eryca Neville
Chris Campbell
Ann Rogers
Tom Mendenhall (Representative of the Downtown Community Improvement District)
Deb Sheals (Representative of the Downtown Community Improvement District)

No matter what these task force members do or don’t do, the celebration won’t be inclusive if it doesn’t include everyone’s voice, so make sure you get involved and speak up. You can contact the task force members via by going here and using the pull-down menu.

Right now, the task force is getting itself organized and collection information, so think about what how you might get involved or how your group or organization might participate.

As for me, I’d like to see some oral or written histories collected. Perhaps groups like the Cosmo Club and other organizations could collect their own histories whether they got started in the 1800s, 1900s or even the 2000s.

Perhaps all the houses of worship will consider looking at the history of their faith community and how it has affected the city.

Perhaps families, no matter when they arrived, will take time out to collect their history in Columbia.

Area businesses could look at how they’ve changed with the times. ABC Labs, for example, started out in recycled buildings and is now housed at Discovery Ridge, and celebrated its 50th anniversary, even though it’s not owned by the global firm EAG Labs.

Many have done excellent work collecting the history of Columbia’s once vibrant black economic area, Sharp End, but perhaps this is an opportunity to collect, document and celebrate even more of our city’s often under-recognized history.

But the task force won’t know what’s possible — or what the residents of Columbia want — unless you speak up.

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