The Anoka County Historical Society spends much of their time reflecting on the past. But now their eyes are turned to the present as part of a new online survey, History Gather. The latest survey is focused on the death of George Floyd and the civil unrest that has followed.
The historical society’s executive director sees it as their obligation to collect and preserve information during current events of historic magnitude.
“The present is the past of the future,” said Rebecca Ebnet-Desens.
“Those moments where you can picture them in a history book 50 years from now, if you tie them to a local reaction are incredibly valuable.”
The survey has been live on their website for about a month and received 82 responses so far.
Of those participants, 50 percent responded they felt angry and 33 percent felt helpless in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent events. Seventy percent of respondents reported that the events did not change their existing opinions.
The survey also provided space for written responses to the question: “How do you see the events in the Twin Cities affecting/reflecting on Anoka County?”
A sampling of the answers submitted in the survey included to following phrases:
"things are out of control"
"it should affect us all"
"catalyst for change"
"irrational, reactionary behavior"
"fight against injustice"
"racist and unwelcoming"
"anarchist, socialist thugs"
"distrusted because I’m white"
"too white and privileged"
"we can all learn from these events"
Ebnet-Desens say the Anoka County Historical Society’s primary goal is to collect and preserve information. Second, is to help the community understand that information. She sees the participants’ stark, and mostly polarized, answers as an important step toward that end.
“I’m glad that they were honest. There’s so much value in that honesty.”
Anoka County Historical Society will eventually create a website to display the survey responses. The information could also be used for future exhibits, focus groups and other programming.
The survey is still available at anokacountyhistory.org.