ORLANDO | onePULSE Foundation, in partnership with Cultural Vistas, is bringing the second annual International Culture of Remembrance Symposium to the Crowne Plaza Hotel Downtown Orlando Oct. 5-6.
The two-day symposium is hosted by onePULSE Academy, the education arm of onePULSE Foundation, and its theme this year is Collective Healing.
“It just seems to be the sentiment of where we are in society,” says Dr. Earl Mowatt, vice president of education for onePULSE Foundation. “We need healing and the theme this year emerged from that. This is the perfect opportunity to invite people into a forum like this for healing. That’s why we want to open it up to Orlando in general and just bring as many people in as possible.”
The idea of cultural remembrance is something that has been embraced in European countries, especially in Germany as a result of the Holocaust, but has been something that hasn’t gained traction in the U.S., something Mowatt and onePULSE are hoping to change.
“Historical narratives can be biased and are usually controlled by people in power or entities that are in power,” Mowatt says. “For instance, oftentimes people argue that a lot of the history of United States is more heritage than history, especially around how the South is betrayed. Why is it that they celebrate and honor so many Confederate leaders that actually lost the war? It tells a false narrative of history. So remembrance culture actually corrects that, it works to correct the narrative.”
Mowatt came into the space of remembrance culture after being selected as one of 16 experts in remembrance and memorials by Cultural Vistas, an organization that creates international exchanges of experts to look at certain social problems.
“They recruited eight experts in the United States and eight experts from Germany, and we worked together towards building a more diverse and inclusive culture of remembrance,” Mowatt says. “During that process it was almost like an epiphany. I started connecting the dots with Pulse and how the Pulse narrative has been controlled if you will. I started thinking about how there are a lot of things that have been left out of this narrative that paints a different picture of the Pulse story in terms of what Pulse meant to the community that was impacted.”
After looking at an analysis of the media’s coverage of Pulse, Mowatt realized that most media focused on the Orlando response to the tragedy and the LGBTQ+ community in general, leaving out many of the details of the population that was most impacted.
“It left out in the storytelling the impacted community, which was the community of color, mostly Hispanics,” Mowatt says. “Most of the media articulations actually dropped that out but that was such a crucial part of the whole story. … Cultural remembrance includes the stories like why did that community choose Pulse, why was that they’re safe space that night. It makes it a more complete story, but it also opens a door to what Pulse meant to the community in general.”
The symposium this year will address those stories and more over 10 individual events with three separate tracks: Exploring Gaps in Remembrance; Remembrance, Memorials and Impacted Communities; and Healing and Remembrance.
“This is a global effort so we’re going to have people coming in from all over the globe,” Mowatt says.
Symposium speakers will include Nolubabalo Memese of Constitution Hill in South Africa, “a living museum that tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy”; Kaoru Watanabe from the National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial; Heiner Schulze from Germany’s Schwules Museum; John Beacham of Eatonville 1887, who will share the History of Eatonville, the oldest incorporated African American Municipality in America; and many more.
“Something that was intentionally put into the symposium was a specifically LGBTQ+ track,” Mowatt adds. “So for each one you are going to be able to break out into a track that will consider the LGBTQ+ themes in each topic.”
As attendees listen to the stories and learn about cultural remembrance, Mowatt has two specific things he hopes they will take away from the event — hope and healing.
“In having these engaging conversations it creates a certain amount of efficacy around people to heal,” he says. “We’re talking about communities that experienced genocide. We’re talking about communities that experienced oppression and look how they rose.”
The second annual International Culture of Remembrance Symposium will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Downtown in Orlando Oct. 5-6. This is a free event but you are asked to register as space is limited. The two-day symposium will offer breakfast and lunch, thanks to the sponsorship from Pineapple Healthcare. Free parking is available.
Go to https://bit.ly/ICoRS to get registered.