TSDPAfter six years of existence, the mission of the Slave Dwelling Project is evolving therefore, board members of the Project are in the process of contemplating internally how we must proceed into the future. We are working with professional fundraisers and partners to help us figure out our way forward. You will be notified at the appropriate time on how you can assist with that effort.

Washington State Park, Arkansas

Washington State Park, Arkansas

To date, ninety one sites in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia have allowed the Slave Dwelling Project to have access to engage diverse audiences in the subject matter of the chattel slavery that existed in this nation. While there are individuals and entities calling for more dialogue on the subject of slavery, the Slave Dwelling Project has not only been talking about slavery, but engaging diverse audiences at historic sites by conducting programs, lectures and spending nights. These sites would not have existed had it not been for the institution of slavery. In this current political climate, it is necessary that we continue to be an organization that can convene various elements of people at sites that were so deeply rooted in the act of enslaving people. Above and beyond that convening, is the opportunity to engage in conversations about slavery and the legacy that it left on America.

In 2017, we will continue to work with the coalition of the willing and continue to add other sites to the portfolio that are interested in incorporating the methods of the Slave Dwelling Project in engaging a more diverse audience. That said, it is imperative that we continue to do the successful things that got us to this point. To that end, I present to you the 2017 schedule for the Slave Dwelling Project. I hope that you will be able to join us at one or many of these events.

Saturday, January 7, 2017
Choosing to Lead Conference
Jekyll Island, Georgia

Straight out the blocks I will present about the Slave Dwelling Project at the Choosing to Lead Conference which will be held on Jekyll Island, GA.  And check out this bonus:

Congratulations! You have been named one of our inaugural One Hundred Miles 100 honorees!

This annual award honors 100 individuals and organizations, past and present, who have made a significant and lasting difference across Georgia’s 100-mile coast. The list features ten nominees in each of ten categories: Coastal Stewards, Civic Leaders, Artists, Business Leaders, Researchers and Innovators, Writers, Community Advocates, Educators, The Next Generation, and Legacy Leaders. You are one of ten exceptional Educators being honored.

Honorees were determined after a call for nominations earlier this year, which drew hundreds of suggestions from across the country. You received several nominations, and we are thrilled to honor your many contributions to our coast.

Friday, February 3, 2017
Slave Dwelling Project Lecture
Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, Bluffton, SC

South Carolina Humanities

South Carolina Humanities

This is one that almost never happened. Originally scheduled for October 7, 2016, instead, Hurricane Matthew sent my family fleeing to the upstate of South Carolina in fear of our safety.  In the discussion to reschedule, the matter of an honorarium almost killed the deal. To the rescue, came the South Carolina Humanities Council. Because I am on their speaker’s bureau, they will pay me a small honorarium.  South Carolina sites, you might want to do something similar.

Thursday, February 9, 2017
Slave Dwelling Project Lecture
Westview Middle School, Charleston, SC

Although I encourage potential hosts not to book me in the month of February, this one had many elements in its favor; school children, a fellow church member but most importantly, my wife who said that it will happen.

Friday, February 17, 2017
Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, SC

Slave Cabins at Magnolia Plantation

Slave Cabins at Magnolia Plantation

Living Historians

Living Historians

This year, the Slave Dwelling Project received a major grant from the South Carolina Humanities Council to conduct a living history program at four sites in South Carolina titled Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved. The grant covered the cost of assembling African American living historians to conduct cooking and blacksmithing demonstrations. These demonstrations were complimented with lectures on slavery and storytelling. 

I am happy to announce that although all of the grant funds have been spent, in 2017, several sites will be taking on the expense of paying the living historians so that this opportunity will continue to be a program offered by the Slave Dwelling Project. These programs will ensure that we will continue to tell our own stories of our enslaved Ancestors.

Saturday, February 18, 2017
Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
Hampton Plantation, Charleston County, SC

Hampton Plantation

Hampton Plantation

Gilbert Walker

Gilbert Walker

A great problem to have, this program will come on the heels of the same living history program that we will conduct at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens the day before. So Georgetown County and the surrounding area, this will be your opportunity to interact with the Slave Dwelling Project. We just hope that Mother Nature will allow us the opportunity to spend a night at the site where no slave dwellings exist and the big house is not climate controlled.

Hampton Plantation was a tuff nut to crack because it is a state entity. Although, there are no extant slave dwellings, the state has been conducting archaeological work to prove where some of the dwellings were located. Here is the link that documents my sleepover there: http://slavedwellingproject.org/speaking-from-beneath-the-earth/

Thursday, March 2, 2017
Slave Dwelling Project Lecture
Florence County Library, Florence SC

Friday, March 17 – Sunday 19
Sleepover and Public Program
Audubon Pilgrimage / Oakley Plantation, St. Francisville, LA

For so long, I have been trying to convince places that conduct established house tours that there is more to the story than the “big house”. Well, the Audubon Pilgrimage will give the Slave Dwelling Project an opportunity to interpret the spaces of the enslaved. I wonder if I should tell them that John James Audubon was a Black man or should I leave well enough alone?

Thursday, March 30 – Sunday, April 2, 2017
Sleepover and Public Program
Dodge Cabin, Dodgeville, Wisconsin

Chris Lese

Chris Lese

Explaining slavery that occurred in northern states is somewhat of a challenge. While I have spent nights in slave dwellings in the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, I have never spent a night in a slave dwelling in the upper Midwest. Dodgeville, Wisconsin will allow me that opportunity. It will also play a part in the series: “Slave Dwellings as Classrooms” because I will be joined by Chris Lese and students from Marquette University High School which is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Wisconsin will be the eighteenth state added to the portfolio.

Friday, April 7, 2017
Slave Dwelling Project Lecture
University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware

Earlier in 2016, I met a gentleman by the name of Francis Mahon. Francis joined me and others in a sleepover at Charles Towne Landing in Charleston, SC. Francis was part of a team that was conducting an archaeological dig at the site. We spent the night on the Adventure, a replica of a ship that would have docked there in 1670. Francis is student at the University of Delaware and he is helping to facilitate this lecture that will be held on that campus.

Saturday, April 8, Sunday 9, 2017
Sleepover and Public Programs
John Dickinson Plantation, Dover, Delaware

Earlier in 2016, my host at Cliveden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania took me on a field trip to the John Dickinson Plantation. It was then that we made a verbal commitment to conduct a sleepover at the site. Delaware will become the nineteenth state added to the portfolio. This will be a sleepover where I will be allowed to invite others to join me.

Wednesday, April 19 – Sunday 23, 2017
Behind the Big House Public Programs
Holly Springs, Mississippi

Hugh Craft House

Hugh Craft House

Magnolia, Holly Springs

Magnolia, Holly Springs

In building foundations, there must be evidence of consistency, for the past five years, I have gone to Holly Springs, Mississippi to participate in the Behind the Big House Tour. Originally created and conducted the first two years to compliment the Holly Springs Pilgrimage, which, up until that point, only highlighted mansions. The Behind the Big House Tour highlighted the places that the enslaved would have inhabited. This is a tough sell to some adults especially those with the means to pay to see the mansions, but the kids eat it up and thanks to the Mississippi Humanities Council, the program has always been free to the public. I am also thankful to the Mississippi Humanities Council because I will be going to Holly Springs for a sixth consecutive year.

I am still working on gaining access to Natchez, Mississippi, so far, they are not buying what I’m selling.

Thursday, April 27 – Sunday 30, 2017
Behind the Big House Sleepover and Public Programs
Lakeport Plantation, Lake Village, Arkansas

Washington State Park, Arkansas

Washington State Park, Arkansas

Jerome Bias

Jerome Bias

Prior to designing Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved around the ability of Jerome Bias to cook over an open fire and conduct interpretation, I had an opportunity to put him to the test. It was the two of us at Washington State Park in Washington, Arkansas preparing food for 50 people over an open fire. Jerome was the cook and I was his help. For the second consecutive year, Jerome and I will go the Arkansas to participate in this event.

You can learn more about Lakeport Plantation by following this link: http://lakeport.astate.edu/

Friday, May 5 – Saturday 6, 2017
Sleepover and Public Programs
Walkertown Historical Society, Walkertown, North Carolina

Jonathan Williams

Jonathan Williams

Jon Williams, Terry James, Prinny Anderson

Jon Williams, Terry James, Prinny Anderson

Jonathan Williams is a high school principle in the state of North Carolina. I would tell you the school but by the time this story is printed that has a possibility of changing. You see, Jonathan is a forward thinker and that type of creativity needs to be stimulated in challenging environments. I first heard from Jonathan in 2013 shortly after a story about the Project was published in Smithsonian magazine. Jonathan and his school made arrangements for the Slave Dwelling Project to spend a night in a slave cabin in Rockingham County, North Carolina. My second stay in North Carolina arranged by Jonathan was at Cooleemee Plantation in Davie County because now Jonathan was assistant principal at another school. Jonathan is now assistant principal at the third school since I’ve known him. He is now collaborating with the Walkertown Historical Society to facilitate a sleepover in a slave dwelling in the county that he is now employed.

Jonathan has also presented at two of the past Slave Dwelling Project conferences. So public schools, check in with Jonathan, he can show you how to get it done.

Sunday, May 7, 2017
Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
Lexington County Museum, Lexington, SC

Thursday, May 11 – Saturday 13, 2017
Sleepover and Public Programs
Booker T. Washington National Monument, Hardy, Virginia

Bureaucracy has made it a challenge to sleep in slave cabins on public land owned by the National Park Service. My one stay was Magnolia Plantation in Derry, Louisiana, Natchitoches Parish. My second National Park Service overnight stay will be Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy, VA

Friday, May 19 – Sunday 21, 2017
Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
Poplar Forest, Forest, Virginia

Nicole Moore

Nicole Moore

This trip will test the road worthiness of Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved, because this will be the first time that this living history program will be conducted beyond the boundaries of South Carolina. Already having conducted two sleepovers at Monticello, Poplar Forest will be the second site associated with President Thomas Jefferson where the Slave Dwelling Project has spent a night in its extant slave dwelling.

Wednesday, May 24 – Thursday 25, 2017
Sleepover and Public Programs
Archives Museum Foundation, Marengo County, Alabama

Question: How do you help an organization stay within its stated budget when they want something from you?
Answer: Barter

I found out earlier this year that a grant that I was written in to in 2015 was approved. I am now the keynote speaker at the opening of a travelling Smithsonian Exhibition titled “Changing America Exhibition” I also found out that I could be gotten a lot more inexpensively in 2015.

The compromise: Find me an inhabitable slave dwelling in the vicinity, no hotel required just a place to shower and change clothes.

I don’t know the details but my host has assured me that permission to sleep in that dwelling has been granted. It would have been nice to get a sleepover in the slave cabin on the campus of the University of Alabama but we will continue to work on that prospect.

Sunday, June 11 – Tuesday, 13, 2017
Sleepover and Public Programs
With Marquette University High School in New York, City

Marquette University High School

Marquette University High School

Chris Lese is a history teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For the past three years, I have been meeting Chris and his history class at various places throughout the United States to spend nights in extant slave dwellings. In 2014 it was South Carolina, in 2015 Northern Virginia and 2016 it was Holly Springs, Mississippi. In 2017, I will be meeting the group in New York City.

This will be another opportunity to continue our Slave Dwellings as Classrooms series. Our last sleepover in 2016 was at Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown, Virginia.  We were joined by students from Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. The organizers made a beautiful video of their experience.  If you know a group that can benefit from this service, please let me know.

Saturday, July 1, 2017
Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina

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Saturday, July 29, 2017
James Family Reunion
Florence, South Carolina

Friday, September 22 – Sunday 24, 2017
Sleepover and Public Programs
Menokin, Warsaw, Virginia

Many enslaved people slept in the same mansions as their masters. Franklin Vagnone co-wrote the book: Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums. This book is a groundbreaking manifesto that calls for the establishment of a more inclusive, visitor-centered paradigm based on the shared experience of human habitation.

Franklin also engages in a practice titled: Sleeping Around which is a series of “One night Stands” at historic house museums. At Menokin in Warsaw, Virginia, the Slave Dwelling Project will merge with Franklin’s program as the Menokin Foundation continues to explore ways interpreting the lives of all the people who once inhabited the site.

Friday, September 29 – Sunday, October 1, 2017
Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
James K. Polk Historic Site, Pineville, North Carolina

Jerome Bias, Nicole Moore, Dontavius Williams

Jerome Bias, Nicole Moore, Dontavius Williams

Dontavius Williams

Dontavius Williams

Members of the Slave Dwelling Project have spent nights and conducted programs at the presidential sites of the Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee, the home of President Andrew Jackson; Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia, the home President Thomas Jefferson; and Montpelier in Orange, Virginia, the home of President James Madison. Twelve of our past presidents owned slaves, eight of whom owned slaves while they were in office. In 2017, we will add the fourth presidential site, the James K. Polk site in Pineville, NC.

Saturday, October 7, 2017
Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina

Friday, October 13 – Sunday 15
Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
Vienna, Maryland and Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, Church Creek, Maryland

Wednesday, November 8 – Saturday 11
Inalienable Right: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved
Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia

Some institutions of higher learning are coming to grips with their involvement in the institution of slavery. I have had the pleasure of sleeping at sites associated with slavery at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia; College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina; Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and Clemson University in Clemson. Roanoke College will be the fifth institution of higher learning added to the portfolio.

Musings:

On another note, I was fortunate to have been chosen to give a TEDx talk in Charleston, SC.  If you have not already seen the video, I hope that you will enjoy the message and share it with your network. The talk was titled And You Thought History Was A Snore.

It is not a mistake that the details of the upcoming Slave Dwelling Project Conference is not a part of this announcement.  You can expect the save the date announcement no-later-than mid January 2017.  When collaborating with three major partners, decisions are not made as quickly as when acting solo especially when they are bringing the funding and venue to the table.  We are certainly flattered that our effort to honor the enslaved Ancestors is receiving the attention and support to offer the general public what will be the biggest and best conference ever.  Yes, this one will be HUGE!, stay tuned.

I hope that you will be able to join us at one or more of these events that will occur in 2017.  If you are not on the schedule, and I presume, you should be, you should contact me via this website or email: slavedwellingproject@gmail.com  or Twitter: @slavedwelling or Facebook: The Slave Dwelling Project.

We will continue to GO HIGH in 2017.

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