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In 2019, Telfair Museums announced Community in Conversation: Legacy of Slavery in Savannah, an initiative that worked with the community to consider how the legacies of slavery still manifest in our city. This multifaceted effort sought to engage local Savannahians, artists, organizations, and scholars who are active in their efforts and missions in examining the historical roots of present-day conditions of racial inequality and uncovering dimensions of the black freedom struggle that remain unexplored on Georgia’s coast.

This interdisciplinary effort will conclude this October 2023 with weekend-long events across the Savannah State University and Telfair Museum campuses. For more information, refer below or visit


10/01/21 – 1/17/2022
Curated by Erin Dunn

Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom will feature a large-scale canopy quilted together from cyanotype reactive fabric squares and seeds that were made with the help of workshop participants during the artist Sonya Clark’s various residencies. Draped as if a night sky overhead, visitors will experience a celestial viewpoint that encourages them to consider those who sought freedom along the Underground Railroad.

10/01/21 – 1/17/2022
Curated by Erin Dunn

Noel W Anderson: Heavy is the Crown considers the Black experience and its legacies through printed works, tapestries, and works on paper. The works utilize found imagery from various media and archives that are reprocessed by the artist Noel W Anderson through assorted means of distortion and manipulation to collectively expose the relationship of black masculine (mis)representation to structures of power.

April 16, 2021 – February 27, 2022

Re-Cor-Dare is a solo #art912 exhibition of Savannah-based artist Sauda Mitchell (American, b. 1981). Mitchell’s prints, paintings, and artist books serve as compelling visual responses to her sustained engagement with archival collection materials. In researching personal papers, photographs, artifacts, and curated digital collections, her work explores thematic topics of study relating to the Black experience. Utilizing QR codes, selected works link to digitized collection materials focusing on their ability as teaching tools recalling stories embedded within the African American collective memory.

September 16, 2022 ―February 19, 2023
Organized by Monique Long, Independent Curator, with Elena Gross, Director of Exhibitions & Curatorial Affairs, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco.

Elegies: Still Lifes in Contemporary Art will bring together an international group of artists who have disrupted or extended the traditional presentation of still lifes. The works are expressed through various mediums, including painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, performance, and installation. The artists have appropriated the genre in order to create works within a framework of Black diasporic identities, histories, and experiences. The central discourse in this exhibition considers Blackness in relation to the existential question, “How does an artist create work about the body without the body being present?” resulting in political, historical, and art historical interventions.



Melissa Cooper, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History
Clement A. Price Humanities Scholars Program Director
Rutgers University-Newark

Talitha LeFlouria, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History and Fellow of the Mastin Gentry White Professorship in Southern History
University of Texas at Austin

Andrew Kahrl, Ph.D.
Professor of History and African American Studies
University of Virginia

Jamil Drake, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of African American Religious History
Yale University

Fath Davis Ruffins
Curator of African American History and Culture in the Division of Cultural & Community Life
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH)

Jelani Favors, Ph.D.
Henry E. Frye Distinguished Professor of History
North Carolina A&T State University

Maurice Hobson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of African American Studies
Georgia State University

Felicia Jamison, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History & Comparative Studies
University of Louisville

Ann Bailey, Ph.D.
Professor of History and Africana Studies
SUNY Binghamton (State University of New York)

Mia Bay, Ph.D.
Roy F. and Jeanette P. Nichols Professor of American History
University of Pennsylvania

Tina McElroy Ansa
American Novelist

Hilary Green, Ph.D.
James B. Duke Professor of Africana Studies
Davidson College

Julie Buckner Armstrong, Ph.D.
Professor of English
University of South Florida

Michele Johnson
Librarian/Assistant Professor of Library Science
College of Coastal Georgia

Legacy of Slavery in Savannah Initiative Book Club Series

October 8, 2020 – Julie Armstrong – Mary Turner and the Memory of Lynching. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.


November 12, 2020 – Mia Bay – To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.

Listen to Session

December 10, 2020 – Hilary Green – Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools in the Urban South, 1865-1890, Fordham University Press, April 2016.

January 14, 2021 – Talitha LeFlouria – Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South. University of North Carolina Press, 2016.

Listen to Session

February 11, 2021 – Andrew Kahrl – The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South, University of North Carolina Press, 2016.

Listen to Session

March 11, 2021 – Douglas Blackmon – Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. New York: Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 2009. ©2008.

Listen to Session

April 8, 2021 – Patricia Sullivan – Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, The New Press, 2009.
Listen to Session

May 13, 2021 – Melissa Cooper – Making Gullah: A History of Sapelo Islanders, Race, and the American Imagination, University of North Carolina Press, 2017.

Listen to Session

June 10, 2021 – Jelani Favors – Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism, University of North Carolina Press, 2019.

Listen to Session

July 8, 2021 – Maurice Hobson – The Legend of the Black Mecca: Politics and Class in the Making of Modern Atlanta. University of North Carolina Press, 2019.

Listen to Session

August 12, 2021 – Tina McElroy Ansa – Baby of the Family. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.

Listen to Session

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Ahmauri Williams-Alford at

Community in Conversation Panel Discussions

Friday, October 13 | 10am-4pm
Savannah State University – Mary C. Torian Auditorium (located in the Howard Jordan Building)

Join us in the Mary C. Torian Auditorium at Savannah State University for a series of panel discussions throughout the day in connection with our Legacy of Slavery in Savannah initiative.

Schedule of Programs:

10:00 am – Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:30 am – Panel I: Education, Memory, and the Legacy of Slavery
Panelists: Dr. Jelani Favors, Fath Davis Ruffins, and Dr. Anne Bailey

  • Dr. Jelani Favors, Henry E. Frye Distinguished Professor of History, North Carolina A&T State University: “Til’ I reach My Highest Ground: Georgia State Industrial College and the Pursuit of Black Freemen During the Nadir, 1877-1900”
  • Fath Davis Ruffins, Curator of African American History and Culture in the Division of Cultural and Community Life, Smithsonian National Museum of American History: “Memories and Histories of Slavery: Br’er Rabbit, Haunted Plantation Houses, and the Acacia Collection”
  • Dr. Anne C. Bailey, Professor of History and Africana Studies, Director of the Harriet Tubman Center for Freedom and Equity, SUNY Binghamton University: “The Weeping Time and Full Freedom”

12:00 pm –                ***BREAK FOR LUNCH***

1:30 pm – Panel II: Losing Ground: Land Ownership in the Lowcountry
Panelists: Dr. Felicia Jamison and Dr. Andrew Kahrl

  • Dr. Felicia Jamison, Assistant Professor of History & Comparative Studies, University of Louisville: “’This Land Ain’t Got No Papers Over It:’ Land Displacement and the Black Community in Liberty County, Georgia During War II”
  • Dr. Andrew Kahrl, Professor of History and African American Studies, University of Virginia, “Coastal Capitalism Comes to Sea Islands”

2:30 pm – Panel III: Activism in the Face of Violence
Panelists: Dr. Julie Buckner Armstrong, Dr. Mia Bay, and Michele Johnson

  • Dr. Julie Buckner Armstrong, Professor of English, University of South Florida: “The Negro Womanhood of Georgia has been shocked: ‘Race, Gender, and Lynching in Savannah”
  • Dr. Mia Bay, Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History, University of Pennsylvania: “The Tribune Says ‘Walk’: Struggles over Streetcar Segregation in Savannah 1872-1908”
  • Michele Nicole Johnson, Librarian/Assistant Professor of Library Science, College of Coastal Georgia: “Ahmaud Arbery – Legacy of Slavery in Savannah”

3:30 pm – Closing Remarks

4:00 pm – Event Concludes

This event is free and open to the public. Seating is first come first serve. Space is limited and pre-registration is recommended.

Register Now

Legacy of Slavery in Savannah Initiative Events

Community in Conversation Kick-Off at Savannah State University

October 12 at 6pm7pm Savannah State University – T.A. Wright Stadium
Come kick-off the weekend of events at Savannah State University with food and a live performance by the Powerhouse of the South, SSU Marching Band!

Community in Conversation: Panel Discussions

October 13 at 10am4pm Savannah State University – Howard Jordan Building – Mary C. Torian Auditorium
Join us in the Mary C. Torian Auditorium at Savannah State University for a series of panel discussions throughout the day in connection with our Legacy of Slavery initiative.

Community Celebration – Free Family Day

October 14 at 10am5pm All Three Sites
Telfair Museums is excited to celebrate the conclusion of the Community in Conversation: Legacy of Slavery in Savannah initiative with a Free Family Day on Saturday, October 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can enjoy free admission to all three of Telfair Museums’ sites (Jepson Center, Telfair Academy, and the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters) as well as special programs and activities at the Jepson Center.