An Introduction to Inclusive History
Stockton is recognized historically as the Gateway to the Southern Mines during the Gold Rush era in California. Much historical writing has been published about this period as well as significant events and people who represent milestones in the development and growth of Stockton. Most Stocktonians who have lived here for a while will recognize the contributions of Charles Weber, Benjamin Holt, Leonard Gardner, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Alex Spanos, among others. These individuals have contributed greatly to the history of Stockton and are deserving of recognition.
Third City Coalition, through its Mission and Vision Statement, has included the promotion of an inclusive history of our city as a major goal to be addressed. James Baldwin has written that “History does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways and history is literally present in all that we do”. Baldwin identifies a depth to the importance of history that often is overlooked or discounted. As individuals living in a community, we incorporate the history we are taught by our family (personal history), our group and our locale into our world view. This can lead to a biased perception of others if not mediated by the knowledge of the history, values, and contributions of all groups.
History is often written from a point of view of a particular group that shares values and perceptions of what is right and good. The problem with this is that history then becomes more exclusive than inclusive. Inclusive history seeks out and values the many different stories and history that emerge from all groups within the larger community. Exclusive history alienates members of the community who are not a part of the exclusive group. In building a shared sense of community we need to be inclusive in our approach to its history. Our community will thrive when we begin to include and celebrate all groups within our community and recognize the strengths and accomplishments each group has contributed to the shared history of our city. With this in mind, we will seek out and report on historical persons and events that are inclusive of all segments of our city.