A gatekeeper is a person who controls access to something, for example via a city gate. In the late 20th century the term came into metaphorical use, referring to individuals who decide whether a given message will be distributed by a mass medium. From Wikipedia.
My concern is that there are gatekeepers of African American history everywhere. The challenge of getting past the gate has happened to me here in New Mexico.
I saw a photograph of an early Black church in an exhibition. I inquired about the location of the original picture. I was directed to the curator of the exhibit, who directed me to a library, who directed me back to the church, who directed me to a department in a university, who directed me to several staff members, which led to nowhere. I contacted a friend who directed me to the same university staff members and also to a publisher who directed me to a retired professor who said to give him a week to find the said photograph. I also visited the NM state library/archives which suggested that I contact the church!
All of these folks are gatekeepers, in my opinion. Access to records pertaining to African American history shouldn't be this challenging. It doesn't help anybody's cause to be considered the 'go-to' person for information and then to be reluctant to share it or put folks through a lot of hoops to get it.
To be clear, I am willing and able to do the research. I appreciate all of the assistance that I get along the way. However, imagine my frustrations when I encounter all these gatekeepers.
What are your thoughts on this subject?