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Affiliated Conference Events

Workshops

Thursday, May 18, 10:00 am to noon and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Location: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, 4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek, Maryland 21622

Cost--$25 for one workshop, $35 for two workshops

Workshop 1 An Interactive Workshop on Poetic Imagination and History BRIEF EVIDENCE OF HEAVEN: POEMS FROM THE LIFE OF ANNA MURRAY DOUGLASS


Date and Time: Thursday, May 18, 2017, 10:00 am – noon
Location: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek, MD 21622
Conducted by Michelle Keita

Marylander Anna Murray was free-born. Yet she changed how we grasp slavery by supplying a fugitive, young Frederick Bailey, with the means to flee Baltimore in 1838. Murray was a native of a border state, where free-born and enslaved people mingled. Agency was in the air through groups like the East Baltimore Mental Improvement Society, where the two may have met. When Anna Murray later married Frederick and he changed his name to Douglass, she found her position juxtaposed yet again in comparison to his: her husband taught himself to read, while Anna never became fully literate. My fascination with Anna’s situation compelled me to write BRIEF EVIDENCE OF HEAVEN: POEMS FROM THE LIFE OF ANNA MURRAY DOUGLASS, published by Whirlwind Press in 2015. The collection imagines the world, interior and exterior, of Douglass, a woman whose importance to the Underground Railroad is far less acknowledged—or even realized—than her famous husband or many of her contemporaries.

In Notable Black Women, Volume I, Jessie Carney Smith asserts that “History has yet to emphasize the value of Anna Douglass to the Underground Railroad and her role in aiding runaway slaves”(287). We can use such observations to speculate on how her ‘border-state’ consciousness may have informed her direct role as an Underground Railroad conductor in Rochester, New York, working from her own home. In a nontraditional workshop, I propose to share a range of poems from the book, discuss how they emerged from my research, allow the audience to respond to the results and relate their perceptions of Douglass’s vision and agency. Finally, I expect to engage those gathered as to the questions such a historicized approach to poems raises in the course of acknowledging this pivotal black American woman and abolitionist.

Workshop 2 How to Interpret Slavery

Date and Time: Thursday, May 18, 2017, 10:00 am – noon
Location: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek, MD 21622
Conducted by Akua Anansesemfo

The interpretation of American slavery can be a very sensitive and delicate matter. When one interprets slavery at an historic site, it must be done in tactful yet truthful manner. The interpreter must relay the stories of the enslaved and the “peculiar institution” without allowing his/her and the public’s preconceived notions to cloud the facts. Workshop participants will discover prejudices they may have which can prevent them from effectively conveying the stories of the enslaved at their site. Also, interpreters will learn the “slavery interpretation vocabulary”. As a result, their audience will be able to empathize with the plight of the enslaved without feelings of shame and guilt.

Workshop 3 Tubman and the New Freedom

Date and Time: Thursday, May 18, 2017, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Location: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek, MD 21622
Conducted by Lacresha Berry

This session presents the story of Harriet Tubman reimagined as a young woman growing up in Harlem through a theatrical lens. Harriet Tubman is a heroine and American legend in her own right. This session will take the story of Harriet in the 19th century and places her in the 21st century, laced with the problems facing African-American youth all over the country. What would happen if a young woman like Harriet became a leader in this new world? Would her struggle be the same? Would she know her power? This session will examine the centuries old fight with race, gender, and equality through a theatrical lens centered on the most influential woman leaders in American history. Poetry, monologue, and revolutionary music will aid in telling young Harriet’s story. This session would benefit students and leaders searching to find their voice and searching to take an active role in defining their place through social justice theater in this racially divided country. This session will be excerpts of performance followed by a hands on workshop.

Workshop 4 Bridging Past to Present: Heritage Tourism and the Underground Railroad

Date and Time: Thursday, May 18, 2017, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Location: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek, MD 21622
Conducted by Ally Spongr, Sara Capen, Marci Ross

This workshop will highlight the work of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area (NFNHA) and the establishment of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center (NFUGRR), focused on interpreting the unique role Niagara Falls and ordinary people had in the Underground Railroad and making connections between the past and present through a lens of human rights. It will also describe the efforts of the Maryland Office of Tourism Development to develop the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad on the land where this history took place.

This workshop argues for the deeper investigation into borderland communities, including Niagara Falls, and the role of heritage tourism and connecting this history to the present.

Topics addressed will include:
developing interpretation through partnerships
encouraging community owned and shared stories
addressing the needs of local and tourist audiences
what is the role of the heritage center as a place that connects an under-told history to present day issues that impact our daily lives
the relevance of this history, the role of the Heritage Center, authenticity of place, and how museums can ignite social change by inviting visitors to draw connections between history and their own experiences