In September 2019, Telfair Museums announced the Legacy of Slavery in Savannah Initiative. This multifaceted project seeks to engage local Savannahians, artists, scholars, and activists to consider how the legacies of slavery still manifest in our city and what we can do to work toward justice.
This interdisciplinary effort examines the historical roots of present-day conditions of racial inequality and uncovers dimensions of the black freedom struggle that remain underexplored: how the region’s black residents’ political, economic, social, cultural, and educational pursuits have been shaped by persistent racial discrimination whose roots stretch back to chattel slavery. This initiative will offer audiences and readers a unique and timely account of the connection between a troubled past and the present on Georgia’s coast.
Community Engagement: Telfair Museums is partnering with organizations throughout the Savannah community who already work to end the legacies of slavery and seek justice. We’re working with our partners to highlight their missions and amplify their voices.
Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom consists of a large-scale canopy quilted together from cyanotype reactive fabric squares and seeds that were made with the help of workshop participants during 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–a network of people, safe houses, and clandestine routes used by enslaved people in the early to mid-19th century to escape from states that sanctioned slavery, such as Georgia, into free states and Canada–using the constellations to orient themselves. Clark will also hold a workshop in Savannah in Summer 2021 to allow local residents to create their own cyanotypes.
Noel W Anderson: Heavy is the Crown considers black experience and its legacies between the temporal brackets of two “kings”–1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. presented his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech and 1992, the brutal beating of Rodney King and his subsequent plea “Can we all just get along…?” Heavy is the Crown expands upon Anderson’s ever-evolving questioning of black origin and sovereignty through inquiring about the relationship of the term “crown” to black masculine (mis)representation. The printed works, tapestries, and paperworks on view in the exhibition utilize found imagery from various media and archives that are reprocessed by Anderson through assorted means of distortion and manipulation to collectively expose the troubled relationship of black masculine representation to structures of power.
Sixteen scholars from around the country have been invited to explore the diverse legacies of slavery in our region. (Scholars listed below)
Oct 1–3, 2021
Free and open to the public
Publication: The findings of our scholars, along with images from the exhibition and oral histories, will be published by University of Georgia Press as The Legacy of Slavery in Savannah.
Melissa Cooper and Talitha LeFlouria are working with Savannah residents to collect oral histories focused on the African American experience.
Know someone who should be interviewed? Reach out to Ahmauri Williams-Alford, Tenenbaum Education Fellow at WilliamsAlfordA@telfair.org.
Scholars and Topics
Melissa Cooper & Talitha LeFlouria – Oral history and the legacy of slavery in Savannah
Andrew Kahrl – coastal capitalism, black land loss, and gentrification
Jamil Drake – Portrayals of Religion in the Federal Writers’ Project
Fath Davis Ruffins – Interpreting Slavery at historic sites in the South
Jelani Favors – Black student activism
Maurice Hobson – Geopolitical history of Savannah’s development since 1965
Felicia Jamison – Land displacement during WWII
Julie Buckner Armstrong – Race, gender, and lynching in Savannah
Ann Bailey – Memory of slavery in coastal Georgia
Douglas Blackmon – Incarceration and the legacy of slavery
Mia Bay – Segregated Transportation
Tina McElroy Ansa – Georgia’s black freedom struggle in fiction & more
Christina Sharpe – African Amerian Art and Artists
Patricia Sullivan – WW Law and the Black freedom struggle in Savannah
Michele Johnson – Ahmaud Arbery’s murder and the local grassroots response
Legacy of Slavery in Savannah Book Club
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.
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.
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.
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.
April 8, 2021 – Patricia Sullivan – Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, The New Press, 2009.
May 13, 2021 – Melissa Cooper – Making Gullah: A History of Sapelo Islanders, Race, and the American Imagination, University of North Carolina Press, 2017.
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.
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.
August 12, 2021 – Tina McElroy Ansa – Baby of the Family. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.
September 9, 2021 – Christina Sharpe – In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Duke University Press, 2016.
Legacy of Slavery in Savannah Book Club Virtual Meeting – Julie Armstrong – October 8, 2020
Featured books will be conveniently available at the following libraries and The Book Lady Book Store.
Beaufort County Library
Library phone: 843-255-6456
Visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beaufortcountylibrary/
Current library hours: Citizens are encouraged to call or e-mail before driving to a Beaufort County Office. Visit us online at www.beaufortcountysc.gov. Effective July 17, all Beaufort County buildings are closed to the public until further notice to minimize opportunities to spread COVID-19 in our community.
Live Oak Public Libraries
Library phone: 912-652-3600
Visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liveoakpl/
Current Library hours: Live Oak Public Libraries are open with limited services and safety practices. Visit https://liveoakpl.org/services/ for services, protocols, and safety precautions.
Monday, 10 AM – 7 PM
Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM – 6 PM
Saturday, 10 AM – 2 PM
The Book Lady
Store phone: 912-233-3628
Message on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBookLadyBookstore/
Current In-Store hours: Monday-Saturday 11-5, COVID-19 safe procedures include a limit of 4 people inside the shop, mandatory masks, hand sanitizer provided, gloves provided, frequent sanitizing of the shop, check-out station behind plexiglass