S17A4 Aspects of African American History & CultureIn recognition of the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, join us to explore local features, people, projects and books, concluding with a broader view of the pivotal period of the civil rights movement. Sessions include:
--Learn about the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project and its work including the exhibition at the Simms Center. Members of the community exhibition advisory board will join us to explain the process and the methods of recovery. We will end with information about the current research and projects including the historic Dallard/Newman House and the Rosenwald School in Elkton.
--Harrisonburg's two urban renewal projects were watershed events for our city. Most notably for the African-American community, the levelling of a large portion of the northeast neighborhood had a devastating impact, transforming race relations. Similarly, the wholesale destruction of acres of buildings throughout the downtown area changed citizens' attitudes towards the built environment, and the importance of the past. What was the tremendous appeal of the urban renewal initiatives, which linked redevelopment with progress and modernity, and their continuing relevance for our own times?
--Registers of Free Negroes are a veritable treasure trove of genealogical information for all researchers and historians. Because many other records in the Southern states were lost due to fire, war, and neglect, Registers of Free Negroes often provide the essential missing pieces in genealogical puzzles. Learn how these registers can help flesh our ancestors' histories and help make sense of the world in which they lived.
--Explore a recent book about Lucy F. Simms, the most respected African American teacher in Harrisonburg whose career in education spanned 56 years. Research has revealed some new, previously unknown facts about Miss Simms.
--We will explore the many meanings of the civil rights movement and assessment of some of the prevailing myths about this pivotal period in African American history. The session will explore the tensions within the movement between local initiatives and national organizations, between struggles for justice in the South and in the North, between disciples of nonviolence and proponents of armed resistance, between the demands for civil rights and the need for economic justice, and between the promise of racial integration and the desire to preserve racial separatism.
Robin Lyttle, a Shenandoah County resident, established the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project in February, 2013. Her work in the arts and love of history led her to create the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project in an effort to gather and add to the research about this history-rich community.
David Ehrenpreis is Professor of Art History at JMU. He is the founding Director of the Institute for Visual Studies and the leader of Picturing Harrisonburg, a book and exhibition project examining the city's history over the past two centuries.
Dorothy A. Boyd-Bragg is a Professor of History, Emerita, JMU. She is the author of fifteen books and numerous articles and reviews.
Dale MacAllister is the current resident historian for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society. He is finishing a biography about Lucy Simms that will be published to distribute to all social studies and history classrooms in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County schools. He has done research about historical African American communities in Rockingham County for many years.
Steven Reich is Professor of History at JMU. His fields of specialty and teaching are Labor history, African American history, and Southern history. Publications include African Americans at Work: A History. Rowman & Littlefield.
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For registration questions, please contact Lifelong Learning Institute at LLI@jmu.edu or 540/568.2923.
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