Keystones – An Oral History Of The African American Influence Within Pennsylvania’s Capital Region

The African American Community within Pennsylvania’s Capital Region has placed an illustrious influence on the historical development of the region and, associatively, the United States.  However, this influence is understated, underappreciated, and relatively unknown to our region’s community and students. From athletics to education; community service to medical service; religion to military; and more; the Dauphin County African American community has played a role that deserves to be celebrated and presented to today’s and tomorrow’s generations.

Harrisburg native and resident, Bryan Wade, in cooperation with Harrisburg’s highly regarded arts incubator–Jump Street, wishes to educate and inform our community of the important role and lasting positive influence of the African American community within the Capital Region through an oral history documentary project.  Mr. Wade, feeling that these stories need to be recorded and presented to the region and our youth, undertook this project as community service without any financial considerations for himself—a true act of giving back to the community.

Using his 17 years of radio, television, and documentary production experience, Mr. Wade is developing “KEYSTONES – AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN INFLUENCE WITHIN PENNSYLVANIA’S CAPITAL REGION” to be a series of 60 to 75-minute documentary episodes along with correlated, age-appropriate classroom curriculum materials to record and present the true-life recollections of those African American leaders that lived the history and made their mark on the region and the country.

Keystones Oral History Executive Director

This project will consist of fifteen (15) individual explorations including Community/Public Service, Education, Entertainment, Entrepreneurs, Legal Service, Medical Service, Military Service, Religion, Sports, and others.  Fordham Films, LLC, an award-winning film company whose clientele includes Warner Brothers, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Harvey, and Tyra Banks, will film, edit, and print each documentary piece. Once each exploration is complete, a public celebratory screening will be held followed by additional showings of each film via the Pennsylvania Cable Network and/or public television. Commitment has also been confirmed with Chambersburg’s Capitol Theatre to include each film in their community movie series. Long term or traveling placement of the films in appropriate multi-city/state venues will be pursued as well once any commitment with PCN/PBS and the Capitol Theatre are satisfied.

Additionally, a certified curriculum is being developed for use in all grade levels and that can be used in whole or part as best suited for the faculty. The Harrisburg City School District, which has committed to incorporate the series entire curriculum throughout the district, intends to begin professional development with their faculty for the 2017-18 school year.  An additional instructional element will include interactive living history presentations to school students by some of the individuals featured in the documentary presentations.

Finally, a companion DVD and booklet combination will be made for families of participants, educational use, and for public purchase.

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Projects

To educate and inspire the youths of the central PA region by developing culturally relevant lesson plans dedicated to the memory of local veterans highlighted in the Keystones documentary series.

Services

To educate and inspire the youths of the central PA region by developing culturally relevant lesson plans dedicated to the memory of local veterans highlighted in the Keystones documentary series.

Events

To educate and inspire the youths of the central PA region by developing culturally relevant lesson plans dedicated to the memory of local veterans highlighted in the Keystones documentary series.

FOCUS ON YORK COUNTY VETERANS

Production of the second KEYSTONES episode began in 2019. This episode and hall of fame class was to focus on Religious Leadership. However, through the process of seeking potential interviewees and nominees, the project committee discovered a rich African American veteran heritage in York County. This discovery eventually led to the decision to hold the next Southcentral Pennsylvania African American Hall of Fame Induction in the City of York; additionally, this rich heritage persuaded Mr. Wade to film a separate Keystones episode to celebrate and pass on the legacy of the York County community in 2020.

As planning began on the two elements, community members encouraged organizers to debut the “KEYSTONES – AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN INFLUENCE WITHIN YORK COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA” episode as part of the hall of fame induction program.  This suggestion was eagerly accepted and plans to combine the presentation of both events began to debut the York County Keystones Military episode at the hall of fame ceremonies in October 2020.

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IMPACTING TODAY WHILE IMPROVING TOMORROW

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The Keystones Series in York will be making an impact within today’s and tomorrow’s community. Outside of recognizing and honoring those African American contributors and shapers of and within the region, this program will make huge strides in erasing an existing trauma that lives within the youth of today’s African American Community that prevents progress and leadership within the community. 

This existence trauma is a result of generational unawareness of who young African Americans are as a person and amongst their people within the gears of the community.  The educational gap between African American and white youth are documented through the Department of Education and individual studies throughout.  African American History let alone LOCAL African American History is not taught in schools as no curriculum exists. Keystones will provide a curriculum that will expose all children to the influence of the African American Community locally that will aid in the easing of social misnomers and stereotypes. Additionally, the lessons and examples will provide a foundation for local African American children to build self-esteem, awareness, and a sense of being.  This will additionally provide a spark to emulate local role models that do “everyday things” as compared to national celebrity types that provide “pie in the sky” dreams that the vast majority will never achieve or pursue.

York College completed a study into why a Keystones Oral Histories Program is needed within the community.  In this study they confirmed