He warns that sometimes that experience was not flattering to the county’s past residents.
Ommen has prepared programs, and in some cases written books, about train robbers and rustlers, about opium dens and crooked politicians, and about gun battles in the streets of Visalia.
In his many writings in local publications, including his former column in the Visalia Times-Delta and his current column in Lifestyle magazine, among others, Ommen has frequently touched on some of the instances in which local minorities, indigenous people, and immigrants were victimized.
For this year’s annual program at 210, Ommen has titled the program, “How marginal groups have been treated in Tulare County’s history.”
The program is December’s installment of “Tulare County Voices @ 210,” a monthly forum devoted to examining topics of interest in the community.
The forum is co-sponsored by First Presbyterian Church and the Visalia Times-Delta. It will be at 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 210 W.Center Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Ommen has been the forum’s presenter in December for more than 10 years, covering topics such as Tulare Lake, Visalia’s Chinatown, Fort Visalia, Visalia’s role in the Civil War, local lawmen and outlaws in the community’s history, and many others.
This year’s topic is a departure from Ommen’s past examinations, because this is history that some might not want to remember. Marginal groups – native Americans, Asians, African Americans, Mexicans and other minorities – were frequent victims of discrimination and outright persecution. Tulare County was the site of race riots, Japanese detention centers, and one of the biggest statewide gatherings of the Ku Klux Klan.
Ommen suggests that those attending bring open minds and a willingness to confront the less pleasant aspects of our communities’ history.
“Despite the painful subject matter presented,” Ommen said, “I believed the audience will be surprised by the resiliency and courage oftentimes shown by the victims. The evening will be uncomfortable at times yes, but there will be moments that will be uplifting. I know you will leave more informed.”