Oxford plays role in Emory conference on slavery
January 25, 2011
Emory University, founded in 1836, marks its 175th anniversary in 2011. Just after the start of this milestone year and its emphasis on Emory's legacy, the executive committee of the Board of Trustees adopted a formal statement of regret over the history of the school's involvement with slavery.
Emory is not alone in its focus on this matter; other American institutions of higher education-including Harvard, Brown and the University of Virginia-have grappled with their own historic ties to slavery. Further to the issue, Emory is the sponsor of a national scholarly conference that is the first of its kind. "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" will take place February 3 to 6. Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University, will open the conference with a keynote address on February 3.
A prelude to the conference will take place on January 26, at 4:00 pm in the Jones Room of Emory's Woodruff Library. Emory's Life of the Mind lecture series will present "Histories and Legacies of Slavery and Race at Emory." Participants include Gary Hauk, PhD, vice president and deputy to the president, Emory University; Leslie Harris, PhD, associate professor of history at Emory College; and Susan Ashmore, PhD, associate professor of history at Oxford College. The panel will discuss the role of slavery at antebellum Emory, the response of Emory leaders to Reconstruction and Jim Crow, and the desegregation period at Emory. Ashmore is a Southern historian and the award-winning author of Carry It On: the War on Poverty and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, 1964-1972.
On February 2 at 7:00 pm in Oxford's Williams Hall, Mark Auslander, PhD, will present a lecture entitled, "Re-visiting the Story of Miss Kitty: Remembering African American Family History in Oxford, Georgia." Auslander, a former assistant professor of anthropology at Oxford College, teaches in the department of anthropology at Brandeis University and is the author of the forthcoming book, The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of the American South. The book recounts the story of Miss Kitty, an enslaved woman who resided in Oxford and was owned by Methodist Bishop James Osgood Andrew.
On February 6, the concluding event of the Emory conference "Remembrance in Slavery's Aftermath: A Day of Commemoration, Reflection, and Celebration," will take place in Covington and Oxford. The day will begin with a service of worship and remembrance at Grace United Methodist Church in Covington, with Bishop Mike Watson of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church preaching. That afternoon at 2:30 in Oxford's Old Church, "Slavery and Jim Crow at Emory and in Newton County: A Talking Circle "will take place. Members of the Emory community and Newton County residents, including descendants of both slave owners and the enslaved, will reflect on slavery's legacy.
Following the talking circle in Old Church there will be a wreath-laying ceremony in the historic African-American section of the Oxford city cemetery.
Co-sponsors of the February 6 events , which are open to the public, are the African American Historical Association of Newton County, the Oxford Historical Shrine Society and Emory University's Transforming Community Project.