Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Speaker Explores The Rich Cultural Contributions Of Her Enslaved Ancestors February 4

Chestertown, MD, January 21, 2003 — In honor of Black History Month, Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience presents “THE DIMINISHING POWER OF MYTH,” a lecture by Dorothy Spruill Redford, executive director of North Carolina's Somerset Place Plantation, Tuesday, February 4, 2003, at 7:30 p.m. in the College's Hynson Lounge. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
More than 20 years ago, inspired by the landmark television program Roots, Dorothy Spruill Redford began researching her family history, a quest that led her to Somerset Place, once one of North Carolina's wealthiest plantations. Four generations of her enslaved ancestors worked and died there, but when she visited the site, there was no mention of the contributions of Somerset's slaves. Convinced that their story must be told, she began organizing a “homecoming,” an event to bring together the black and white descendants of Somerset. The homecoming became a national news story, and on the appointed day, over two thousand people showed up. Since the first homecoming in 1986, the event has continued to grow. Her book, Somerset Homecoming: Recovering a Lost Heritage, chronicles her inspiring journey into her family's past. Alex Haley called it, “the best, most beautifully researched, and most thoroughly presented black family history that I know of.”
Now the executive director of the historic site where her ancestors once worked in bondage, Redford has incorporated the integral story of the enslaved community into the larger history of Somerset. Her lecture will discuss the ways that she has accomplished this, and also address the larger issue of how African-American history fits into and enriches the American historical experience.
“THE DIMINISHING POWER OF MYTH” is a program of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, an innovative forum for new scholarship about American history. Drawing on the special historical strengths of Washington College, the Center explores the early republic, the rise of democracy, and the manifold ways in which the founding era continues to shape the fabric of American culture. The Center is interdisciplinary, encouraging the study of traditional history alongside new approaches, and seeking to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large.
For more information about C. V. Starr Center events and programs, visit the Center online athttp://starrcenter.washcoll.edu, or call 410-810-7156.

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