Kenneth Dalton started Our Story Inc. to spread the word of accomplishments of Northern Nevadans in history. In its 20 years, it has published calendars and a book, 300+ Facts, and provided displays and programs around the area. Dalton himself was a part of that history—one of Reno’s first six African-American firefighters.
What made you start Our Story?
I think I started Our Story because of a lack of knowledge of contributions that have been made in this area. I just felt that we needed to know that there were things done in this area that are positive.
When you first envisioned it, what did you have in mind? Did it look like what you ended up with?
I think when I first envisioned it, it was kind of like what we talked about before, more like a storytelling kind of a thing. You know, I would talk to people and I would say, Did you know? Did you know about Jim Beckwourth? And they’d say, Who? Do you know about Marion Motley? Who? Marion Motley—I mean, you don’t know about Marion Motley? And it was kind of one of those things, that you would go to a party and tell people and see their reaction, and they just didn’t know. Ben Palmer. They just didn’t know. And they would think you were making it up. And you would tell them, no, that you can actually go and see, and there’s books on these people and there’s history about them. And I got more excited about just seeing people’s faces when they found out that it was true. It just kind of snowballed into what we’re at now. Did I think that we’d have 300+ Facts? … We need to share all that. It takes a lot of people to do a lot of research, put it all together, but it needs to be done. It needs to be done or it’s going to be buried like it has been.
You’re at 20 years. What’s next?
It’s one of those things that when I talk to you and share some of the things that I’m talking about, I’ve shared it with you. So you can’t say, Well, I don’t know. You do know. So what are we going to do with it now? How are we going to share it? And it’s not just for the young people here. It’s for our community to know. It’s for our community to get behind. There’s a lot of things going on around the world that we’re all looking at. And then we take hold or ownership in some of the things that are not even happening here, but it’s happening someplace else. And I’m saying, let’s take ownership in what’s going on here. Let’s not take the negative from some other places and then try to say, Well, we’re not going to let that happen here. Well, you don’t even have to think about it. Let’s take some of the positives and say you want that to radiate out to the rest of the world on how positive it is in Reno, Nevada, with all these different things that you have just found out that make Reno positive. Let’s work it from that angle. That’s what I’d like to see.
At the 20th anniversary dinner, I didn’t see many children. Is this for them?
We did come up with a coloring book to try to target the young people. Once again, that’s back to the education. If the parents don’t know, how are the children going to know? So now we’re sharing with the parents. … My kids lived it. They lived it so much that my son, who is in the Navy, and he’s stationed at Leavenworth, Kansas, during his travels he was able to get out and he actually went over to the Martin Luther King Memorial in Memphis. And he called me and said, “Dad, I’m at the museum.” … Excited about that experience, being a part of what his dad is doing here.