Interpreting Slavery and Freedom in New England: A 2-day workshop

  • Job Fair Bot
  • Providence, RI
  • Feb 12, 2018
Multi-Employer General Business

Event Description

Challenged by your site's historical connections to slavery? Looking for strategies and resources on speaking to the public about complicated topics like race in America? Unsure about what to do with documents, artifacts or grave sites related to your community's enslaved or early free populations of color? Wrestling with how to get your board to approve race-related programming or recruit interpreters of color? This March the Center for Reconciliation will host a two-day workshop to help New England's museum community work through the continuing challenges that interpreting slavery and freedom can present. The workshop will include "unconference" sessions where you can get help with your biggest questions or most problematic objects from local historians and curators. Let's work through the obstacles and blindspots together. This two-day conference will provide participants with opportunities to: Explore the history of African and Indigenous/Native American peoples in New England Be able to distinguish between different forms of forced labor, and how and when they were used Discuss the history and usage of America's most important and problematic race related terminology. This includes how to use these terms appropriately in programs and exhibit labels. Learn about the development of racial ideologies in America and how that impacts the work of front-line interpreters and museums as a whole today. Gain or refine race dialogue strategies with colleagues from around New England. Draft and practice leading a brief tour or program on the racial history of your site. Receive real-time feedback on your draft. Receive immediate feedback on your ideas or current projects from local experts and new colleagues during the unconference. Locate local resources including interpreters, trainers, scholars, and books to help you or your organization progress in your work interpreting the racial history of New England. Schedule: 9am - 4pm, March 26-27th. Morning sessions will focus on New England's history of African and Indigenous slavery, the struggles and triumphs of freedom, an exploration of relevant racial terminology, and strategies for leading sensitive and nuanced tours, and dialogues with the public on slavery and race in New England. Afternoon sessions will include research strategies, local resources, "unconference" sessions and other activities. Please check back for more details. Unconference sessions: An unconference is an informal meeting of individuals interested in talking with and learning from each other on the same topic. For a fuller explanation please click HERE. This is your opportunity to discuss your most frustrating visitor comments, problematic objects, confusing terminology,thorny questions, "Aha" moments, big discoveries and fresh research, in a welcoming space and with museum professionals and historians from around New England. An email will be sent out to all registered attendees the week before the workshop with a link and directions for proposing an unconference session. There will also be an opportunity to nominate sessions during the workshop. Speakers: Elon Cook Leeis the Program Director and curator for the Center for Reconciliation, a consultant on interpreting slavery and race for historic sites around the country, an adjunct lecturer on Rhode Island slavery and public memory at RISD and a National Association for Interpretation certified interpretive guide trainer (CIGT). Joanne Pope Melish, Ph.D., is a historian, museum consultant and the author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and "Race" in New England, 1780-1860. She has also written and lectured extensively on slavery, emancipation, and the evolution of racial ideologies in New England. Marjory O'Toole is the Managing Director of the Little Compton Historical Society, curator of the exhibition, If Jane Should Want to Be Sold, Stories of Enslavement, Indenture, and Freedom in Little Compton, Rhode Island, and author of the accompanying book of the same title. Maria Madison, Ph.D., is the Board President and co-founder of the Robbins House, an African American historic site in Concord, Massachusetts. She is also the Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at Brandeis University, and a National Association for Interpretation certified interpretive guide (CIG). Check back for the full list of speakers. Healthy box lunch option available below. If you purchase a box lunch option we will email you ahead of the workshop with more details. Location: The workshops will be hosted inside the historic Cathedral of St. John in Providence, Rhode Island. The Cathedral is located on North Main street, a 7-minute walk from the Providence Amtrack Station.There may also be opportunities for afternoon field trips to local institutions that are currently hosting exhibitions on slavery. Scholarships:The Phillis, Rose & Fanny Memorial Scholarship - Three full scholarships are available for museum or historic site staff, independent tour guides or students who identify as a member of the African diaspora, or Indigenous/American Indian/Native American. Please write a brief essay, 250 words or less,describing how attending this conference will help your career as you interpret the narratives of enslaved or free people of color. Scholarships will be awarded competitively. Essays due by March 5th, 2018. Interpreter Ally Fund and Scholarship: Thanks to the generous support of our museum world colleagues we are excited to offer two more full scholarships to attend the workshop. Please keep in mind that these scholarships are for individuals who are unable to receive institutional funding or cannot afford to pay out of pocket. To apply please use this form Volunteer Discount: the Center for Reconciliation will need volunteers to assist with social media (ie. live Tweeting and updating Facebook), and tech (setting up projectors, using Mac laptops, troubleshooting microphones, etc). Selected volunteers will receive discounted admission to the conference. Please email with a brief description of your experience. Call for Proposals: The host committee invites proposals that address any of the topics below. Proposal deadline is February 20th. Please submit proposals to by email Accepted panelists will receive half-off admission to the workshop. Creating or leading programs on slavery or local racial narratives for kids and teens. Exhibiting artifacts related to the slave trade Strategies for partnering with descendants, local communities, neighbors/property owners, other institutions or across racial lines Attracting new audiences Other related topics: Is there a topic we are missing that would help museums, historic houses or independent tour guides improve the way they engage New England's history of slavery and/or Black and Indigenous narratives? A Note on Racial Reconciliation in Museums: Please note that the organizers of this workshop recognizethat all museums and historic sites in the United States of America exist in a world that has been deeply marred by not only the history but the legacy of slavery. That includes sites that have never addressed slavery or race before. The pain of our nation's past and present play out in difficult interactions between colleagues, lack of opportunities or support for individuals or groups because of systemic discrimination against their identities, charged incidents with visitors unprepared or unwilling to explore the narratives of people of color, and discomfort or avoidance of narratives that challenge Euro and cisgendered male-centric worldviews, among others. Through recognition of these challenges, we actively seek to help create a better more just museum world. A world in which individuals are paid, hired, promoted and supported fairly for their physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional work regardless of their identities or assumed identities. A world that reconciles our nation's history with the reality of race and racism today. We also recognize that for a variety of reasons including up to at least 400 years of exclusion from career-advancing opportunities, some members of our community are unable to pay at the same rate as others. We welcome everyone to join us in the work of building, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, a Beloved Museum Community. If there is a barrier in the way of your participation, let us know how we can help remove it. If you are privileged enough to help support and uplift other members of our community, tell us so that we can ensure that this workshop is fair and open to all.

Event Date

Mar 26, 2018