A project launched last week, entitled "We are Sabathani," will document the impact of the longstanding
Sabathani Community Center
in South Minneapolis through words and art.
The Council on Black Minnesotans
and the Minnesota Humanities Center
have partnered in the project, with funding from the state Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund
Sabathani, which brings together everything from a food shelf to after-school youth programs, has long been a community gathering place, according to Anika Robbins, who is leading the project along with retired Judge LaJune Thomas Lange.
Already Robbins and Lange have started collecting oral histories and artifacts, such as newspaper clippings and other writings related to Sabathani, all of which will end up in a traveling exhibit. They're also cataloging the center's extensive art collection.
In the 1960s, Sabathani originated as a church. Back then, churches were often a “pivotal point for bringing communities together,” Robbins says. Before present-day types of nonprofit organizations and community centers were created, "Churches were activism-involved and they helped push social change,” she adds.
Later Sabathani evolved into a community center at its current location, which was formerly a junior high school. It became “an avenue for children, to keep them engaged,” Robbins says, adding that she has fond youthful memories of the place herself.
These days, it’s also a hangout for seniors, and some of its original founders participate in events; this, she says, “is a story in and of itself.”
Robbins is excited about the opportunity to capture these stories, which she hopes will help people to “understand the fabric of the community they come from.” The place has hosted “so many people from different walks of life, who grew up in the area or came through the doors for various reasons,” she says, adding, “It continues to be a beacon in the city.”
Source: Anika Robbins, "We are Sabathani"
Writer: Anna Pratt