National scholars headline Stono Rebellion conference

Two nationally recognized scholars will lead the list of speakers at the 7th National Slave Housing Project Conference September 8-10 at the College of Charleston.

The conference, on the theme The Stono Rebellion and the Atlantic Word, will provide an in-depth look at the Rebellion of 1739, the largest and deadliest slave revolt in colonial British North America. The revolt broke out along the Stono River near the current Caw Caw Interpretive Center south of Charleston.

“The Stono Rebellion, a transformative event in the history of slavery in the Americas, tells a powerful story of resistance and resilience,” said historical curator Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project.

The highlights of the conference will be discussions by two scholars who will explore the historical significance of the rebellion.

Dr. Edda Fields-Black, author of the forthcoming book, Combee: Harriet Tubman, the Combahee River Raid, and Black Freedom in the Civil War, will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. on September 8 at the Rita Hollings Center. Fields-Black will discuss the region’s lucrative pre-war rice cultivation, Harriet Tubman and the Combahee River Raid. Tubman served as a guide for the Union Navy during the raid. Fields-Black is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of History. She has written numerous academic studies on the transnational history of West African rice farmers.

“Beyond Victimhood: Slave Resistance on Antebellum College Campuses” will be the topic of Dr. Hilary Green’s talk at 9 a.m. on September 9 at the Stern Center. Green, professor of history in the Department of African Studies at Davidson College, is the author of Educational Reconstruction: African-American Schools in the Urban South, 1865-1890. Her next book will examine how people of African descent remembered and commemorated the civil war.

Historical context

On September 9, 1739, about twenty enslaved Africans armed themselves, killed two white men at the Hutchinson Store, and marched to freedom in Spanish Florida before being captured and hanged. The uprising ended with the deaths of 30 whites and 44 Africans.

McGill founded the Slave Dwelling Project in 2010 to draw attention to the need to preserve slave cabins. Since then, he has spent the night in former slave dwellings in 25 states. The Slave Dwellingt Project also became McGill’s mission to honor the African ancestors who lived in these structures.

“I envision a future in which the hearts and minds of Americans recognize a more truthful and inclusive account of the nation’s history that honors the contributions of all of our people,” he said.

Hosted by the Slave Dwelling Project, the conference is a collaboration with the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program (CLAW) at the college.

The conference also benefits from funding from the 1772 Foundation. Most sessions will take place at the Stern Center. To register, go to: slavedwellingproject.org.


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