On Juneteenth, 2021, the project’s launch event featured panel discussions with historians whose research works to recover histories of enslavement and freedom the the Valley. A keynote address from Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst, underscored the urgency of understanding and interpreting these stories in our local communities.
Histories of Enslavement & Freedom: A Conversation with Scholars
A deep dive into histories of Black life in New England and western Massachusetts prior to 1900 with leading scholars in the field, Ian Delahanty, Gretchen Gerzina and Ousmane Power-Greene. In preparation for this event, audience members were encouraged to view the short online talks linked below. During the session fielded questions from Dennis Picard, President, Pioneer Valley History Network and engaged in dialog with each other and with community members about these critical histories. The event was opened with a welcome from Picard.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES
- Ian Delahanty, Springfield College. View Professor Delahanty’s talk, “Finding Slavery in New England” for the Longmeadow Historical Society.
- Gretchen Gerzina, Professor of English, UMass Amherst and author of Mr. and Mrs. Prince:How an Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved Out of Slavery and Into Legend. In advance of the panel, listen to Professor Gerzina talk about this biography on Vermont Public Radio.
- Ousmane Power-Greene, Associate Professor of History, Clark University, author of Against Wind and Tide: The African American Struggle against the Colonization Movement, and co-editor of In Search of Liberty: Nineteenth Century African American Internationalism. In preparation for the event, view Professor Power-Greene discussing this book on CSPAN, and listen to “Afrotopia,” a short talk on the Northampton Association of Education and Industry.
- Jared Hardesty, Associate Professor of History, Western Washington University, “Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds: A History of Slavery in New England,” GBH Forum, November 13, 2019.
- Joseph Carvalho,author and retired President and Executive Director of the Springfield Museums, “The Struggle for Freedom: The History of African Americans in Western Massachusetts,” Springfield Technical Community College, February 7, 2017.
Documenting Black Lives in the Early Valley: Methods & Models
In this session, four seasoned researchers with experience in the archival work of recovering histories of enslavement and freedom share their experiences, tips, methods, and insights. Each will made brief presentations, with discussion to follow.
- Emma Winter Zeig, Education and Interpretive Programs Manager, Historic Northampton.
- Joe Carvalho, Author of Black Families of Hampden County, Massachusetts, 1650-1865
- Marjory O’Toole, Executive Director, Little Compton Historical Society
- Erika Slocumb, curator of the exhibition Black Holyoke
- Marla Miller (moderator), Professor of History, Director of the UMass Amherst Public History Program and author of Entangled Lives: Labor, Livelihood, and Landscapes of Change in Rural Massachusetts
The House on Egremont Plain: The Story of the Black Burghardts
Keynote Address by Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste
Whitney Battle-Baptiste is Professor of Anthropology & Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on the connections of race, gender, class, and sexuality, during slavery and post-emancipation, and has included interpretation of the W.E.B Du Bois Boyhood Homesite in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and two books, Black Feminist Archaeology (2011), and W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America, co-edited with Britt Russert (2019). This event was moderated by UMass Amherst history librarian Kate Freedman with a closing by Professor Marla Miller of the UMass Amherst History Department.
Photo courtesy of the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, Springfield, Massachusetts.