In 1981, NHACS was founded with the mission to preserve and spread awareness of Black history in the Pikes Peak Region. Its goals were to instill a sense of pride in young people in the Black community and to share and celebrate the culture and contributions of Black people throughout the region.
Lulu Pollard was at the center of the founding of this important Society, the nurturing of its community and mission, and the building of a collection— of stories, documents, objects, photographs and oral histories—that now serves as the foundation of growing Black history collections in the Pikes Peak Region. This includes collections at the Pikes Peak Library District, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and AAHGS’s African American Museum at the Westside Community Center.
Born in 1917, Pollard was part of the large and respected Stroud Family of Colorado Springs. She broke barriers throughout her education and career. In 1951, Pollard became the first Black person employed by Fort Carson’s Civilian Personnel Office. At the end of her career, she became the first full-time Equal Opportunity Officer for the Military Traffic Command in Washington, D.C.. Upon returning to Colorado Springs after retirement in 1979, Lulu and her husband, Leonard Pollard, noticed a void of recorded local Black history. She was poised to lead the movement to change that.
Preservation, education, exhibit, and outreach initiatives included multiple publications that recorded and shared significant—and widely unknown— Black history of the region. The publications also shared current events and accomplishments of the Black community. To further share these stories, NHACS members spoke in local schools and created, or sponsored, exhibits at Penrose Library and the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. They established the Shivers African American Cultural Collection at the Penrose Library and advocated for the sculpture of William Seymour in Alamo Square. In 1985, under the direction of NHACS, Payne Chapel AME Church was designated a state historical site.
In June 2004, following Pollard’s retirement, Candice McKnight became president of the NHACS board of directors. In 2005, NHACS merged with the African American Genealogical Society of Colorado Springs (AAGSCS). In the spirit of Pollard and the founders of NHACS, McKnight has said “We have to keep this alive. If we don’t who will? It’s a lot of work, but if you love it, it’s not hard.” Indeed, the spirit and visionary work of NHACS has had a resounding effect in the preservation, appreciation and interpretation of local Black history throughout the Pikes Peak Region.
Generously Submitted by Hillary Mannion, CSPM Archivist