A piece of history

Monday February 21 2011


In honor of Black History Month, "New Perspectives on African-American Life in Antebellum Central Virginia" will be presented in Sydnor Performance Hall, Elliot & Rosel Schewel Hall on Thursday, February 24th at 7 p.m.

This year's John M. Turner Lecture in the Humanities at Lynchburg College is co-sponsored by Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest, and the LC History Department.

The panel of historians will discuss changing views on the importance of African-Americans in antebellum Central Virginia. The panel, made up of distinguished scholars in the field of African-American history, includes Poplar Forest archaeologist Lori Lee, Dr. Kirt von Daacke of Lynchburg College, and Dr. Andrew Witmer of James Madison University. The lecture will include a question and answer period following the presentations.

Dr. von Daacke, LC associate professor of history, will discuss the experiences of an enslaved man living in Charlottesville, who achieved freedom for himself and his family there and ultimately sought permission from the legislature to remain in Albemarle County. This man's experiences expose the contradictory nature of ideas and impulses of white Virginians regarding slaves and free blacks.

Lee currently serves as Poplar Forest's Archaeology Lab Supervisor and is completing her PhD in anthropology at Syracuse University. She will explore the intersections of slavery, social practice, and consumer behavior to consider how social, cultural, and economic changes impacted the lives of enslaved laborers. These dynamics are investigated through an historical archaeological analysis which focuses on the lives of enslaved laborers at antebellum period Poplar Forest.

Dr. Witmer, assistant professor of history at JMU, will examine biracial church life in Albemarle County during the late antebellum and Civil War periods. This analysis draws upon records from several churches, with a focus on First Baptist Church of Charlottesville. He will discuss the complex dance between fellowship and oppression that marked religious life in these congregations.