Keynote Address: “The Shadow of Slavery in American Public Life”

Thursday, November 3, 2016, 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Presented by Maurie McInnis
Located in Prothro Theater, Harry Ransom Center
In track Main Track

Across America, the physical structures of enslavement have been largely erased: slave quarters have fallen into ruin; the fields where people labored have been turned into housing developments; and the buildings where people were sold on the auction block have been replaced with skyscrapers. Nevertheless, slavery’s presence casts a long shadow over the landscape, both physically and metaphorically. Many buildings and landscapes still bear the scars of slavery, if you know now to read them, and national conversations are turning to the legacy of slavery in today’s racial climate. An important piece of confronting the nation’s original sin is an honest exploration of that past and its local resonances. McInnis’s lecture will address the role that historical scholarship can play in public conversations about race today by discussing two projects in Virginia that seek to make visible the history of enslavement where it had been previously erased from the landscape.