Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yale Historian Presents 'A Slave No More' at Washington College

Chestertown, MD — One of the nation's most distinguished historians is visiting Washington College to share the story of discovery surrounding the publication of two recently unearthed slave narratives. Professor David W. Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American history and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition at Yale University, will present "A Slave No More: Two Recently Discovered Slave Narratives and the Story of Emancipation" at the Casey Academic Center Forum on Monday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Blight's talk is the third in the 2007-08 Crossings to Freedom Lecture Series offered by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. The series highlights the experiences of enslaved people who made the transition to freedom in the years prior to and during the Civil War.

Professor Blight will share the story of the events through which these previously unknown narratives came to light, and the details of the lives they reveal. Alabama field hand Wallace Turnage and Virginia urban slave John Washington never met, but both escaped to the North during the chaos of the Civil War and managed to record their personal stories—powerful testimonies of heroic, painful and ultimately inspiring lives.

The manuscripts were passed down from generation to generation in private hands, only recently coming to the attention of historians eager to add to our understanding of what Blight describes as "one of the most revolutionary transitions in American history." Authenticated, introduced, and situated in context in Blight's A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation (Harcourt, 2007), they have been hailed as "a major new addition to the canon of American history."

Dr. Blight is considered one of the nation's foremost authorities on the Civil War, its causes and its legacy. His book Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001) earned a number of awards, including the Frederick Douglass Prize, the Lincoln Prize, and the Bancroft Prize. Dr. Blight's other books include Frederick Douglas's Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee (1989) and Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War(2002). He has edited and co-edited five other books, including Union and Emancipation: Essays on Politics and Race in the Civil War Era (1997), and is the co-author of the U.S. history textbook A People and a Nation.

Blight has also been a consultant to several documentary films, including the 1998 PBS series, "Africans in America." He is deeply involved in the public history world, teaching summer institutes for National Park Service rangers and historians, and serving on the board of trustees at the New-York Historical Society and as a member of the board of advisors to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He has a Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and for seven years was a public high school teacher in his hometown of Flint, Michigan.

A booksigning will follow Dr. Blight's March 31 presentation. Admission to "A Slave No More" is free and open to the public.

March 12, 2008

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