Symposium Keynote: Dr. Karen Cox
Professor of History, University of North Carolina Charlotte, author of No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice
"Race and Memorialization: What the South Remembers and Forgets"
Karen L. Cox is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, an award-winning historian and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She is the author of four books, the editor or co-editor of two volumes on southern history and has written numerous essays and articles. Her books include Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture, Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture, and Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South, and most recently, No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice, which was published in April 2021 and won a book prize from the Gulf South Historical Association.
A successful public intellectual, Dr. Cox has written op-eds for the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, TIME magazine, Publishers Weekly, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Huffington Post. She she has given dozens of media interviews in the U.S. and around the globe on the subject of southern history and culture, especially on the topic of Confederate monuments. She appeared in Henry Louis Gates’s PBS documentary Reconstruction: America after the Civil War, Lucy Worsley’s American History’s Biggest Fibs for the BBC, and the documentary The Neutral Ground, which examines the underlying history of Confederate monuments and their removal in New Orleans. Her next project explores the Rhythm Club fire, which took the lives of more than 200 African Americans in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1940.
Restorative Justice Archaeology in the Heart of Black Wall Street
Dr. Alicia Odewale (maiden name Ware) was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She is both a living descendant of a survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, a historically Black high school created during Oklahoma’s Jim Crow era and one of the few structures that survived the attack on Greenwood in 1921. As an educator, archaeologist, community activist, descendant, native Tulsan, and a Black woman, she continues to be a fierce advocate for the inclusion of archaeology in the history of Greenwood and for increased diversity across the field of archaeology. After making history as the first person to graduate with a PhD in Anthropology from The University of Tulsa and the first Black person to join their anthropology department, she now enjoys her role as both an African Diaspora Archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer. Today, she continues to share the power of archaeology and Black community resilience through her National Geographic Live show “Greenwood: A Century of Resilience”, as well as an ongoing partnership with HBCUs and the Disney on the Yard program, and through her work as a Wayfinder for National Geographic’s 2892 Miles to Go: Geographic Walk for Justice Project. She is also the co-creator of the #TulsaSyllabus, an online resource guide that dives into the history and archaeology of Black enslavement, landownership, anti-black violence, and the rise of prosperous Black communities in Oklahoma. And serves as the co-creator of the Estate Little Princess Archaeological Field School in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands that trains local students in archaeological methods and other STEM-related skills for free. While her research in Greenwood and the U.S. Virgin Islands centralizes restorative justice, anti-racist, community-based and Black feminist archaeologies, her work with National Geographic provides an opportunity for her to go beyond the classroom and share her work in new and innovative ways with the world. Her research has received awards and support from the National Geographic Society, American Anthropological Association, the National Science Foundation, the Society of Historical Archaeology, the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, the Tulsa Community Foundation, and the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS).
The Arts of Remembrance: William and Mary’s Memorial to the Enslaved
William & Mary has a storied past and for over 300 years, a significant part of the narrative was left out of the telling. Like so many institutions of higher education, north and south, William & Mary's hidden history includes a slaveholding past. For 172 years, the economy of the institution, like the economy of the country, was dependent upon the labor of enslaved people. It is this story that must be brought out of the shadows and into public view. Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved is one step toward recognizing this part of the university’s story.
Jody Lynn Allen, Ph.D., a native of Hampton, Virginia and an Assistant Professor of History at William & Mary, focuses her research on U.S. Civil War through the Long Civil Rights Movement, specifically on black agency. As the Robert Francis Engs Director of The Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation, she works to uncover, make public, and address William & Mary’s 330-year relationship with African Americans on the campus and in the Williamsburg and Greater Tidewater area. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Allen was a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of the South where she taught African American History and consulted with Sewanee’s Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation. Her current manuscript is Roses in December: Black Life in Hanover County, Virginia During the Era of Disenfranchisement. She is also working with a colleague on a documentary film, "The Green Light," on a Virginia school desegregation case, and she co-authored "Recovering a 'Lost' Story Using Oral History: The United States Supreme Court's Historic Green v. New Kent County, Virginia, Decision" in The Oral History Review.
Burt Pinnock, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the National Organization of American Architects, graduated from Virginia Tech and calls Richmond, Virginia home. He is principal and chairman of the board at Baskervill, a 125-year-old design firm. Over his 30-year plus career, Pinnock’s commitment and passion has created impactful work for neighborhoods, cultural institutions, and forward-thinking organizations, including William & Mary, Emory University, University of Richmond, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Better Housing Coalition, and others. Besides founding the nonprofit Storefront for Community Design, he also serves on the City of Richmond Planning Commission, and on the boards of the Legal Aid Justice Center, Historic Richmond Foundation, and Venture Richmond, and as Chairman of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Art and Architectural Review Board.
Fanchon (Chon) Glover serves as the founding chief diversity officer at William & Mary. She provides leadership on campus and in the community on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion to advance university initiatives that foster inclusion, equity, and success. Glover also serves as an Executive Faculty member in the William & Mary School of Education and on many local and national boards. Glover earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Presbyterian College, South Carolina; and master’s and doctorate degrees in higher education administration from William & Mary. She has worked in higher education for almost 30 years, beginning her career as the first African-American Administrator at her alma mater, Presbyterian College, followed by 26 years at William & Mary, starting out as the Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs.
Sewanee: The Unnatural History of a Word
John Jeremiah Sullivan (Sewanee ’97) is an American writer, musician, teacher, and editor. He has served on the faculty of Columbia University and of The University of the South. He is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a co-founder of the non-profit “disruptive research” collective Third Person Project. He is the author of a memoir, Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter’s Son, and a book of collected shorter pieces, Pulphead, which was named a top-ten non-fiction book of the year by The New Yorker magazine. Sullivan’s writing in multiple genres has been published in numerous publications and won many awards. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with his wife, Mariana, and daughters, Maria and Jane.
Woven Wind: Art, Performance, Memory, and Healing
Woven Wind is a multi-layered research project that constructs an artistic platform for education, conversation, empathy, and healing in a time of social and racial reckoning and division. It draws from artistic translations of the extensive plantation records and photographs of the Quitman and Lovell families of Civil-War-era Mississippi combined with contemporary testimonies of the descendants of people these families enslaved.
Vesna Pavlović (Serbia/USA) obtained her MFA degree in Visual Arts from Columbia University in New York in 2007. She is an Associate Professor of Art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Her projects examine the evolving relationship between memory in contemporary culture and the technologies of photographic image production. Expanding the photographic image beyond its frame, traditional format, and the narrative is central to her artistic strategies. She examines photographic representation of specific political and cultural histories, which include photographic archives and related artifacts. Pavlović joined the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, at the University of the South in 2018. In her initial encounter with the Sewanee Archives, in partnership with Professor Woody Register, she worked with History students to present archival records for the Sewanee community. During a community screening at Sewanee’s historic Convocation Hall in 2018, students read the names of the enslaved found in the Archives, concerned that presenting their findings in any other way would further perpetuate objectification and trauma.
Courtney Adair Johnson
Courtney Adair Johnson is an artist and curator based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her art practice works to create sustainable community through reuse awareness. She is interested in creating new ideas with art to generate awareness of our waste and consumption habits. With her public and academic work, she finds importance in information sharing and working on topics of social justice, history, and cultural and preservation. Courtney has led reuse projects with Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and for Tennessee Craft and Springboard for the Arts (Fergus Falls). She is presently Gallery Director of Tennessee State University Art Department and Co-Builder of McGruder Social Practice Artist Residency (M-SPAR).
Mélisande Short-Colomb is a founding member of the GU272 Advocacy Team. She serves on the Georgetown Memory Project’s Board of Advisors and the GU272 Descendants Association. Mélisande is a descendant of two families sold in 1838 by the Society of Jesus to keep Georgetown afloat. She is a recipient of a 2019 Fr. Bunn Award for journalistic excellence for the “GU272 Referendum to Create a New Legacy" commentary. Under the direction of Derek Goldman, Mélisande wrote Here I Am, a one-person play that interweaves her personal story of becoming a Georgetown student after discovering she descended from slaves sold for the benefit of Georgetown. A native of New Orleans, Mélisande began her studies at Georgetown in August of 2017 after retiring from a lengthy culinary career. Mélisande will lead workshops with artists and students. The project team connected with Méli during the Georgetown Memory Project workshop, centered on the ethics of connecting with living descendants of people enslaved.
A native born Chicagoan, Rod McGaha is a visual artist and musician who first showed up on Chicago's jazz scene as a young prodigy during an era when young lions were making more than just a little roar. Learning under and garnering the attention of legends like Von Freeman and Clark Terry, MaGaha received an invite from Wynton Marsalis himself, to come to New York and audition for a spot as one of the newest young lions in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers where he felt that life was calling him in a different direction, to be a different kind of lion. McGaha has played concerts in Egypt, Japan, Germany, South Africa, Poland and Mexico. He has played in bands for Kenny Rogers, Bebe and CeCe Winans and Shelby Lynne while also blessing the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Chicago's legendary Jazz Showcase
Mississippi civil rights veteran Jan Hillegas has helped hundreds of families learn about their Mississippi ancestors and documents other history through New Mississippi, Inc. She co-edited the Mississippi narratives of formerly enslaved people and has compiled preliminary lists of people legally executed and lynched in the state. She remains active in progressive movements and works toward a Jackson resource center for learning from her 56-year archive (email@example.com), archives of others, and intergenerational conversations. For Woven Wind, she found records linking Monmouth servants to living members of the Toles family and is continuing to search for additional descendants from John A. Quitman's several plantations.
Marlos E’van is a Nashville based artist who interweaves different mediums such as painting, performance, and filmmaking to create worlds in which their art recollects black histories: joy, pain, celebration, sorrow, and complex emotions from reenacted scenes of American histories. A subtle vernacular in expression has caught recognition from such publications such as Hyperallergic and Native Magazine. In addition to their work as an artist, E’van co-founded/co-designs M-SPAR, McGruder Social Practice Artist Residency out of the McGruder Center in North Nashville. Working as an educator in a hard-hit redlined Nashville neighborhood, E’van actively listens to their pupils, gathering stories that also inform E’van’s paintings. Their own life creates first-person narratives in paintings targeting marginalization, stemming from a queer black history rooted in their home state of Mississippi. E’van’s work is included in multiple Southern collections, and has been shown in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and New York. They have been awarded the Mellon Foundation for McGruder, and the Metro Arts Thrive grant. Marlos received their B.F.A. from Watkins College of Art, Nashville, TN.
Memory Projects In and For the Digital Age
Over the past decade, many institutions of higher education have begun to publicly examine and embrace their historical roles in the injustices and legacies of slavery and its afterlife. Until recently, there was no common, shared method for collecting, organizing, and describing historical data from the rich archival holdings of all these institutions. The absence of a common, shared approach to documenting, describing, and organizing the data derived from the archival records relating these histories limited researchers understanding of the lives and experiences of the enslaved across these institutional contexts, retarded search and discovery across collections, and constrained the possibilities of a broader analysis of American educational institutions’ historical involvement in slavery and segregation. During this session, Dr. Sharon Leon, Associate Professor of History and Digital Humanities at Michigan State University and director of both the On These Grounds project and the Omeka suite of web publishing platforms, will conduct a wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Woody Register (Sewanee) and Dr. Tiffany Momon (Sewanee) about the promise and peril of efforts to develop and implement a common approach to representing this historical information in a digital environment.
Making Treason Odious Again: Perspectives on the Congressional Naming Commission and the Army's War on the Lost Cause
For the past two years, Connor Williams worked as Lead Historian for the Naming Commission—an eight-member bi-partisan panel created by the United States Congress. Charged with identifying all the nation’s Confederacy-commemorating Department of Defense assets and creating a plan for their removal or modification, the Commission identified more than 1,000 Department of Defense items with Confederate association. These items spanned the gamut of prominence and controversy, from fairly minor displays, paintings, and conference rooms to the names of iconic installations like Fort Benning or Fort Bragg. Their reports and recommendations to Congress were delivered and published in September 2022. After Congressional review, the Secretary of Defense will implement them throughout 2023. As Lead Historian, Williams guided and contributed to many facets of the public conversations, historical investigations, and institutional changes that the Naming Commission took up. With work striding the traditions of academia and the exigencies and interests of Washington, he experienced how memory, history, bureaucracy, politics, publicity and policy all interplayed in this movement to guide the nation's military commemorations away from historical treason and racism and towards a future more representative of the ideals for which it fights. In taking on this national service, Williams continued lines of historical inquiry and interest he began at Yale University, where he both conducted doctoral study on the politics of commemoration and participated in Yale's own renaming debates and discussions surrounding Calhoun College. Williams participated in discussions that established a set of "Principles on Renaming," which will guide Yale's actions on all future renaming issues. Most immediately, they resulted in renaming Calhoun College to instead honor Admiral Grace Hopper.
Dr. Woody Register Francis S. Houghteling Professor of History
Dr. Tiffany Momon Assistant Professor of History
Dr. Andrew Maginn Senior Research Associate and Program Coordinator
Digital Technology and Public History Coordinator
Kathleen Solomon Program Manager, Legacies of American Slavery Initiative
October Kamara Graduate Research Associate
Have Questions? Contact Kathleen Solomon (Program Manager, Legacies of American Slavery Initiative)
The Memory Works Symposium is sponsored by the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation at the University of the South, and in its role as one of seven Regional Collaboration Partners in the Legacies of American Slavery Network, a multiyear program under the direction of the Council of Independent Colleges and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University’s Macmillan Center. The symposium is made possible through the generous support of the Mellon Foundation. Additional support comes from the Center for Southern Studies at the University of the South.