Legacies links for March 27, 2023: Nature, Historic Preservation, and Benjamin Banneker’s Family Tree

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The Freedman (1863), a sculpture by White artist John Quincy Adams Ward (1830-1910), is featured in a new exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, TX. The exhibit juxtaposes Ward’s statue with modern responses by Black artists. source: Amon Carter Museum of American Art
  • “Reflecting on Religion and the Legacies of Slavery,” Harvard Divinity School (March 20, 2023): LINK. In this podcast, several professors of religion at Harvard wrestle with the following questions: What does the academic study of religion teach us about the complex histories and legacies of slavery? How can a deeper understanding of the roles of religion enhance our commitment to reparative action in our contemporary times?
  • Sara Kaufman and Jean-Charles Zurawicki, “Localities Can Advance Racial Equity through Historic Preservation,” Urban Institute (March 15, 2023): LINK. Historic preservation can be a force for gentrification or a way to engage citizens of color (through financial support, business programs, and community organizations) to help retain the cultural heritage in America’s cities.
  • Erin Sharkey, “More To Be Shaped By: Searching for Black Nature Writing,” Literary Hub (March 22, 2023): LINK. In an excerpt from her new volume of edited essays, A Darker Wilderness, Sharkey explores the complicated relationship between African Americans and the American landscape. “Nature writing is rooted in the American experiment, but who is left out from the canon…? A collection addressing the presence of Black people and their contributions is itself a distinctly American project. Despite efforts to the contrary, Black Americans’ relationship to nature has persisted from the Middle Passage, when our ancestors traveled the westerlies in the bellies of ships, and from our toil in the fields and the intimate domestic spaces of white families.”
  • Ericka Taylor, “‘Benjamin Banneker and Us’ traces generations of descendants of the mathematician,” NPR (March 21, 2023): LINK. When Rachel Jamison Webster discovered that she is related to Banneker—a freedman who helped lay out Washington, DC, among many other accomplishments—it set her off on a genealogical quest. The result is an “unflinchingly self-reflective” memoir/history that explores the legacies of slavery in her own family—including the Black cousins she didn’t know she had—and interrogates the meaning of “Whiteness.”
  • “Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation,” Patron (March 23, 2023): LINK. To mark the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art invited contemporary Black artists to respond to an iconic representation of emancipation sculpted by a White artist in 1863.
  • Ryan Feyre, “Easthampton event to cover history of slavery, emancipation,” The Reminder (March 21, 2023:) LINK. Easthampton, Massachusetts, offers a modest example of a Northern city reckoning with the legacies of slavery: first the city council passed a resolution in support of a national commission on reparations for the descendants of slaves; then the city council invited historian Ian Delahanty, who teaches at nearby CIC member Springfield College, to deliver a public lecture on “Slavery and Emancipation in the Connecticut River Valley.” The lecture draws upon his own scholarship and community-based research on Black lives in the region.