Tuesday, November 28, 2023

WM symposium to address enslaved women for the first time

William & Mary’s Lemon Project will host its 10th annual spring symposium, but this year’s topic takes on a new meaning after the state’s year of commemorative events.

The symposium’s topic this year is “When and Where They Enter: Four Centuries of Black Women in America.”

“During our last symposium, we celebrated four hundred years of black community and culture,” said Jody Allen, director of The Lemon Project, in an email. “We again sought to both remember and look forward—this year we will specifically focus on the often-overlooked history of black women in America.”

RELATED STORY: Concept selected for future memorial to African Americans enslaved by William & Mary

Inspiration for the topic came from Anna Julia Cooper’s 1892 quotation which states: 

“Only the BLACK WOMAN can say ‘when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.’”

The quotation was later featured in Paula Giddings’ 1984 book “When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America.”

The symposium is part of the college’s on-going work with the Lemon Project, which started in 2009 as a way to rectify wrongs committed against African Americans at William & Mary, according to the college’s website. In the past decade, the project has contributed to scholarship on the 300-year relationship between African Americans and the college.

RELATED STORY: William & Mary apologizes for college’s history of slavery, discrimination

During the symposium, the project expects to have presenters discuss scholarship on a wide range of methodologies and fields from African American History to Digital Humanities to Genealogy. 

From Angela of the 1619 First Africans to First Lady Michelle Obama, we invited presenters to consider the wide-ranging experiences of black women from 1619 to the present,” Allen said. 

Proposal submissions ended in November but the project was looking for presentations on the following topics:

  • Enslaved women and/or women of African descent.
  • Black women and the law; miscegenation; interracial marriage.
  • African American families.
  • Black women in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Black women and STEM.
  • #SayHerName movement, Sandra Bland, & police violence & brutality.
  • Black feminisms: past, present, and future; black feminists in popular culture.
  • Womanism, feminism, and their intersections.
  • Black women and social justice movements, including but not limited to equal pay; divestment; youth justice; human rights; economic, housing, and health care inequality.
  • Black women and the church; Black women in popular culture.

“We’ve received many submissions from people from across the country, including museum professionals, community members, and academics from a variety of disciplines,” Allen said. “There’s clearly interest in focusing on the experiences African American women.”

In the past, the symposium has covered topics such as African Americans in college, Civil Rights under President Obama and more.

RELATED STORY: Etched in Stone: Representation among William & Mary memorials

The subject coincides with the celebration of 50 years of African American students at the college and 100 years of co-education.

“We decided it was time to concentrate on African American women during the full span of their history in this country,” Allen said.

The symposium will be from March 19-21 at William & Mary’s School of Education.

For more information, visit The Lemon Project online.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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