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Hermitage commemorates Black History Month

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In this undated photo, a wreath is displayed near the Hermitage Enslaved Memorial at The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, near Nashville, Tenn. (Photo submitted)

This February, the home of President Andrew Jackson, will feature a variety of activities designed to commemorate African-American history and culture while paying tribute to the enslaved community who lived at The Hermitage.

The theme of this month long series is “Emancipation and the Meaning of Freedom.”

Each program of the series will explore the theme. As a whole, the series is designed to bring participants a greater understanding of President Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, the lives of slaves in the United States, the American Civil War, as well as the experiences of the enslaved community as they encounter emancipation.

Events in this series include:

Storytelling with Donna Washington - Saturday, Feb. 2 at 1 p.m.

North Carolina storyteller Donna Washington will visit The Hermitage for an afternoon of storytelling.

An important tradition in African-American families throughout history, great stories allow family history to be passed along, questions answered, and important life lessons to be taught. During this program, ideas of freedom and emancipation will be explored through the storytelling tradition.

Washington has three published books to her credit, "A Pride of African Tales," "The Story of Kwanzaa," and "A Big Spooky House," and she is also an award winning recording artist. She received a 2002 Parent’s Choice Award for her first independent recording “Live and Learn: The Exploding Frog and Other Stories.”

Following her presentation, Hermitage Director of Education James Yasko and Curatorial Assistant Ashley Boulknight will guide an interactive walking tour of the property. The stops on the tour will focus on the enslaved community at The Hermitage and the individuals who performed important contributions to the operation of the farm.

A celebration of music and culture - Thursday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

The Hermitage will host a reception celebrating the opening of “From Slavery to Freedom: Stories of the Hermitage Enslaved Community,” a new exhibit being showcased at the home.

A program celebrating African-American music and cultural traditions will follow at 7 p.m., featuring performances by the Tennessee State University Meistersingers and SistaStyle.

Most of the singers in the Meistersingers are from disciplines other than music. The ensembles take pride in announcing that they perform a wide variety of choral literature, from the renaissance to spirituals. It is their hope that this will offer their audiences a rich musical experience to cherish and remember.

SistaStyle Productions is a theatre group, which was founded in 2001 for the purpose of providing opportunities for actors, writers and directors in the areas of theatre, film and television.

“Emancipation and the Meaning of Freedom” - Saturday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m.

This informative discussion on emancipation and the meaning of freedom will feature an esteemed panel of scholars who will explore Lincoln’s issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

The panel will also focus on the impact it had on the enslaved community in the South, including their varied experiences with freedom and the how the slave population living at The Hermitage experienced emancipation.  

Panelists will include Thomas Mackey, of the University of Louisville, Learotha Williams, of Tennessee State University, and Marsha Mullin, of The Hermitage.

Honoring The Hermitage’s enslaved community - Saturday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m.

A wreath-laying ceremony will be held at the Hermitage Enslaved Memorial to honor the enslaved community who lived at The Hermitage.  

Following the ceremony, there will be a presentation in the Hermitage Church on “Telling the Story of Slavery at The Hermitage.”

For more information about all of these events, visit www.thehermitage.com.

Tagged under  Black History Month, Culture, Education, Event, Heritage, History, Nashville, The Hermitage

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