Recovering, Interpreting, and Sharing Local Black History
Lecture and Workshop Series with Dr. Ousmane Power-Greene
Despite the challenges of unearthing histories of enslaved people and free black communities in small towns of rural western Massachusetts, community researchers, scholars, and museum educators have devoted the past two years to uncovering these histories in ways that move beyond merely identifying enslaved residents, and enslavers, to tell a broader story of these small western Massachusetts communities.
In an effort to place these local histories in a national and international context, Dr. Ousmane Power-Greene, in conjunction with the Documenting the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley Project, will deliver a free public lecture and 3 site-based workshops considering the history of Black people in western Massachusetts alongside recent scholarship on free Black communities, the Underground Railroad, and the Abolition movement. The lecture is free and open to all. Workshops are designed for educators, public historians, and community members interested in learning about the project and getting involved.
Workshop participants will:
- Read, analyze, and discuss documented evidence of Black people in local western Massachusetts towns and cities
- Learn about the larger context of Black life in eighteenth and nineteenth century US and Atlantic World
- Build a sense of community with other educators, local historians, and community members who are interested in learning the ways the local history of African Americans connects with the national and international movements to end slavery in ways that will aid future researchers, curators, interpreters, and educators interested in locating new resources.
Together, these events will bring to life the online resources created by local history organizations and made available through the Documenting the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley.
Opening Lecture and Q&A | Recovering, Interpreting, and Sharing Black History in the Connecticut River Valley
Monday, July 24, 7-8pm, Zoom
Open to All. View the recording.
Workshop One | Hampshire County [WAITLIST*]
Thursday, August 3, 5-7pm, Historic Northampton, 46 Bridge St, Northampton, MA 01060
This interactive workshop will include histories, themes and hands-on work with primary source documents from Northampton and Hampshire County, alongside other other materials and major topics. Space is limited. See details below.
Workshop Two | Hampden County
Wednesday, August 9, 6-8pm, Westfield Athenaeum, 6 Elm St, Westfield, MA 01085
This interactive workshop will include histories, themes and hands-on work with primary source documents from Westfield and Hampden County, alongside other other materials and major topics. Space is limited. See details below.
Workshop Three | Franklin County [WAITLIST*]
Monday, August 14, 6-8pm, The LAVA Center, 324 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301
This interactive workshop will include histories, themes and hands-on work with primary source documents from Greenfield and Franklin County, alongside other other materials and major topics. Space is limited. See details below. Co-hosted by the Historical Society of Greenfield.
Audience and Registration
Registration is required. Participants may register for each event individually or the entire series. The content at each workshop will be different, and participants are welcome to attend one or all of the workshops.
The opening lecture is open to all with no capacity limit. Workshops are designed for educators, local historians, museum professionals, and community members who are interested in learning more about the project with an eye to getting involved or on using the resources for classes or workshops or other educational purposes. The aforementioned persons will be prioritized on the waitlist. Registration at the site-based workshops is limited to 30.
*The Waitlist: We will do everything we can to accommodate persons on the waitlist, prioritizing those with the aforementioned motivations to participate in the workshops.
10 Free PDPs Available
K-12 educators interested in receiving Professional Development Points must be able to attend all four events, stay afterwards for a discussion with other teachers, and prepare a simple lesson plan or revise an existing plan.
Dr. Ousmane Power-Greene
Dr. Ousmane Power-Greene is Associate Professor of history and director of Africana Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Over the course of his career, Professor Power-Greene’s scholarship has been recognized with various fellowships, most notably the prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities’ sponsored scholar-in-residency program at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York. This past year, Professor Power-Greene was elected as a member of the American Antiquarian Society – one of the nation’s oldest learned societies and major independent research libraries. As Black Studies scholar and historian, Professor Power-Greene books include, Against Wind and Tide: African American Struggle Against the Colonization Movement published by NYU Press in 2014 and In Search of Liberty: African American Internationalism in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World, which he co-edited with Ronald A. Johnson, and was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2021. He is also the author of the novel, The Confessions of Matthew Strong (Other Press/ Random House 2022) that examines the history of black resistance to white supremacy. Dr. Power-Greene has been featured on podcasts and radio programs, such as All Things Considered, CSPAN Book TV, and NPR’s history podcast Throughline for an episode on the legacy of Marcus Garvey’s Back-to-Africa movement.
About the Documenting the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley Project
This initiative was born of a widely-shared belief that we need to better understand histories of enslavement in the Massachusetts counties of the Connecticut River Valley. Recovering the stories of enslaved people is the project’s first priority. But the Valley was also home to hundreds of people who came here having fled slave states before the end of slavery at the national level, and their stories fall within the compass of this work as well. As the project at its broadest purpose aims to understand the Valley’s relationship to the Atlantic slave economy broadly defined, surfacing narratives that help illuminate the consequences of enslavement for Black families, directly and indirectly, in the decades before the Civil War is also a critical component of this endeavor. This project is a collaboration between the Pioneer Valley History Network, the UMass Amherst Public History Program and Libraries, and 11 local historical societies, and has been supported by Mass Humanities and the UMass Amherst Public Service Endowment Grant. We invite you to explore our website to learn more.
Photo courtesy of the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, Springfield, Massachusetts.