Rodney Freeman is a librarian, archivist who believes the practice of preserving your stories and memories is essential. Originally from Chicago, he was on a path to becoming a lawyer and due to a need for a little extra coin in his pocket while studying for the LSAT, he was propelled into a discovery of knowledge and information through librarianship. His sheer presence alone in the library and archive industry is one to celebrate and speaks to a fresh perspective of what a successful career journey could entail.
Rodney is also helping to share the African American narrative of family and excellence through his startup, Reminisce and popular FB pages – The Black Male Archives and Powerful Women of Color, his newest FB venture. We had a chance to connect with Rodney and learn more about how he is helping to shape culture in Nashville and beyond.
What inspired you to get into the archive/library industry?
I did not want to be a librarian. It’s funny how I fell into this profession, when I think about my childhood, I remember my grandfather collecting old newspapers and photos but that didn’t motivate me to step into Librarianship. The truth is I needed a job while I was studying for the LSAT (Law School Test). I was studying and saw a job posting for a page (book shelver) and I thought that would at least give me some money while I was studying to take the test. So, I started working as a page and one day had a conversation with a library employee about information and how it was so important to be able to access the information that you need to create the life you want, and then it hit me; I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I just wanted the knowledge and information that they would obtain by going to law school. Then I started to re-think what I wanted to do with my life, which was help people find information. But how, how could I help people find the information they needed. That propelled me into a career in Librarianship which also ignited a passion of helping people convert old photos and documents into a digital format. A new way of preserving your history and legacy made me fall in love with archives and libraries.
What motivated you to start Reminisce and the subsequent Facebook pages, The Black Male Archive and Women of Power?
I was so tired of seeing so many negative stories of us (as a community) and I knew there were many positive stories out there to share, they just needed an additional outlet. So in short, I created Reminisce Historian to give people a platform (our app) for capturing, curating and sharing their own stories with family and friends. Our groups/pages were created to help in amplifying the many positive stories about Black Men and Women of Color around the country.
Why is preserving your history so important?
Leaving a legacy for your family is your story to tell and you should always want to share it. By preserving your history through sharing your story, you are creating tangible memories that can be passed down your lineage, allowing you to control your narrative. Preserving your history, means providing tangible memories for your children’s, children’s and giving them a properly referenced information of achievements they can look back on with pride.
In light of recent events in this country (from Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor to George Floyd), how significant is it that the African American male stories are shared and celebrated?
Very!!!! People in general need and must see more stories of positive Black men and minorities in general to destroy these unrealistic narratives and perceptions that many people believe are true. Unfortunately because of these negative stereotypes, they have birthed deadly consequences like Ahmaud Arbery and the many others whose stories we have not even heard about.
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