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Reclaiming Our Ancestors: Community Conversations on Racial Justice & Public History

October 20, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

UB Humanities Instititute. Second day. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Loction: Greenhouse Room, The Lafayette Hotel, 391 Washington St., Buffalo

9:15 a.m. | Introductions: David Castillo, Director, UB Humanities Institute
                     Welcome: Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo

Session I: Routes of Cultural Memory                  

  • Moderator: Carrie Bramen, Director, UB Gender Institute; Assoc. Professor of English
  • Barbara McCaskill, Professor of English and Co-Director of the Civil Rights Digital Library at the University of Georgia, will provide the audience with insights about how to create history when “much of the early African American archive is partial or missing.” Encouraging researchers to approach “an incomplete archive as generative rather than thin,” Prof. McCaskill provides an inspiring model in her book, Love, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery: William and Ellen Craft in Cultural Memory.
  • Margaret (Peggy) Dammond Preacely, MPH, a descendant of William and Ellen Craft, will introduce her family’s routes to claiming historical memory and to antislavery and Civil Rights activism that goes back over one hundred and fifty years.
  • Respondent: Jennifer Desiderio, Associate Professor of English, Canisius College

10:30 a.m. | Coffee Break

10:45 a.m. | Session II: Transforming Personal and Family History into Books and Poems

  • Moderator: Rebekah Williams, Youth Education Director, MAP (Massachusetts Avenue Project)
  • Carla L. Peterson, Professor Emerita of English, University of Maryland, will respond to questions about genealogical research and will share insights based on her research for Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City (Yale UP, 2011), which recounts her quest to reconstruct the lives of her nineteenth-century ancestors and illuminates the history of African-American elites in New York City.
  • Charlotte-Ann Henay, a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Perspectives and Cultural Boundaries, at York University in Toronto, will offer reflections on the intersection of public history and Black “experimental” writing, through rememory and witness.
  • Annette Daniels Taylor, a multi-media artist and MFA student in the UB Department of Media Study, will reflect on poetic performance and screen her short film, “Rose Dies Friday.” Rose Butler, an enslaved teenager born in 1799 in New York City, was the last person hung for arson in New York City and New York State.

12:00 p.m. | Lunch and Conversation, “Food as Source of Cultural Memory” with Sharon Leslie Morgan, Susi Ryan, and Nadia Shahram

1:00 p.m. | Session III: Starting from Scratch

  • Moderator: William L. Andrews, E. Maynard Adams Professor of English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Kari J. Winter, Executive Director of UB Humanities Institute, Professor of American Studies, “My Transatlantic Search for Jeffrey Brace and Why His Story Matters.” A discussion of how to overcome problems posed by biases in historical archives—who appears, who is disappeared—based on a ten-year search for archival information about Jeffrey Brace’s 1810 memoir of slavery, The Blind African Slave.
  • Rhonda E. Brace will share how her life and the lives of her family and community in Springfield, Massachusetts were transformed by reading the memoir of their ancestor Jeffrey Brace. She will describe innovative ways in which family and community members have created Brace memorials.
  • Judy Scales-Trent, Professor Emerita, UB School of Law, “I Started in the Basement.” Prof. Scales-Trent will describe how she, a non-historian, figured out how to write the biography of her grandfather, A Black Man’s Journey from Sharecropper to College President: The Life and Work of William Johnson Trent, 1873-1963.

2:15 p.m. | Coffee Break

2:30 p.m. | Session IV: Building Museums and Creating Memorials

  • Moderator: Kelly Hayes-McAlonie, FAIA, LEED AP, Director of Capital Planning, UB
  • Lynne M. Jackson will share ideas about how to create public history monuments and to create interracial dialogues based on her years of experience as founder and president of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation in Missouri.
  • Carver Clark Gayton will share advice about how to build museums and museum exhibits of African American culture, based on his experiences as the Founding Executive Director of the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle. He also will highlight some research strategies based on research into the life of his great grandfather, Lewis G. Clarke, an escaped slave and leader within America’s anti-slavery movement.
  • Niya Bates, Public Historian of African American Life and Slavery, Monticello will describe the interracial history of Monticello and invite audience discussion about the meanings of democracy and the public good.
  • Respondent: Cheng Yang “Bryan” Lee, Curator, El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera


October 20, 2017
9:00 am - 5:00 pm