By Trenikia Shelton
On the 150th anniversary of emancipation, the African American Heritage Alliance of East Tennessee will present “Echoes of Emancipation: One Region, Many Voices,” a conference and recognition focusing on the 50 years of history, art, music and culture in post-slavery East Tennessee.
The conference will be hosted at Tusculum College, a partner in the event on Oct. 4-5. Other partners include the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and the George Clem Multicultural Alliance.
The event kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with, “150 years of the Arts in Black Communities: Traditions and New Directions.” This will include lectures on music in the black community and on art, identity and community. Lectures will be held in Chalmers Conference Center, located in the Niswonger Commons
The Greeneville Black History Bus Tour will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with lunch at the end of the tour. Reservations are required, as space is limited. Entertainment will be provided by the Obayana Ajanaku African Drummers.
At 2 p.m., there will be a welcoming and opening keynote address from Tusculum President Nancy B. Moody and Assistant Attorney General Cecil Mills.
Afternoon lectures include “Writing the Nelly VanVactor Story: A Free Woman in Color in 19th Century Greeneville” and “Thoughts on Saving the History of Black Schools in East Tennessee.” Also on the afternoon agenda are a poetry reading and a lecture on preserving the history of George Clem School in Greeneville.
“An evening with Paul Robeson,” a one-man show recreating the life of world-famous scholar, athlete, actor, singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson will be held on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Behan Arena Theatre. A reception will follow with entertainment from members of the Tusculum College band program.
On Saturday, Oct. 5, at 9 a.m., will be an opening performance from Eston Williams and Kelle Jolly. Lectures begin at 9:30 a.m. and include “Black Cemeteries, Preserving Stories, Building Community” and “Telling Tales, What’s Your Family’s Story.” The keynote address will be given by Harry Bradshaw Matthews, founder and president of the U.S. Colored Troops Institute at Hartwick College.
At 2 p.m. a roundtable discussion will be held on the topic of “Emancipation Celebrations and African-American Resilience in East Tennessee.”
The program concludes with “Praying with Our Feet: August 8, Crossing Boundaries, and the Ongoing March to Freedom,” presented by Dr. George White, associate professor of history and philosophy at York College, City University of New York.
For more information on the event, contact Dr. Beth Vanlandingham at 865-471-3323.