Skip to main content
Please be advised that Telfair Museums recognizes the Savannah Safe Pledge and the reinstatement of the Savannah/Chatham County mask mandate. Masks are required for visitors and staff at all three of our museum sites.

Pulitzer Prize winner will appear in October 2022 as part of Telfair Museums’ sweeping initiative


Nicole Hannah-Jones portrait after winning MacArthur grant (Credit: James Estrin/ The New York Times)

SAVANNAH, GA (September 28, 2021) — Nikole Hannah-Jones will deliver the keynote address for Telfair Museums’ Legacy of Slavery in Savannah symposium, the museum has announced.

Hannah-Jones, who is Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University and the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, will come to Savannah in October 2022 as part of a series of free public events, including a symposium in partnership with the City of Savannah. Date, time, location, and registration will be announced next year.

Telfair’s Legacy of Slavery in Savannah initiative invites artists, scholars, and the public to consider how the legacy of slavery continues to shape the city, the South, and the nation. The project examines the historical roots of present-day inequalities such as racism, economics, education, and access.

New scholarship generated for the initiative will be collected in a forthcoming volume from the University of Georgia Press, “The Legacy of Slavery in Savannah,” coedited by leading historians Melissa Cooper and Talitha LeFlouria. Since 2019, Cooper and LeFlouria have been gathering the narratives of Savannah residents as part of their research.

“By investigating the ways that racism has manifested in various arenas of Black life,” the editors said, “this volume explores 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.”

The Legacy of Slavery in Savannah builds upon Telfair’s 2014, national award-winning Slavery and Freedom in Savannah project, which charted the effects of slavery through the end of the Civil War. It also includes a series of related exhibitions at the Jepson Center. Among them are Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom and Noel W Anderson: Heavy is the Crown, both opening next month.

Hannah-Jones has spent her career investigating racial inequality and injustice. Her reporting has earned her a MacArthur “genius” grant, a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards, and three National Magazine Awards. She also has earned the John Chancellor Award for Distinguished Journalism and was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. She is editing a new book, “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story,” featuring writing from luminaries such as Rita Dove, Terrance Hayes, Barry Jenkins, Claudia Rankine, Patricia Smith, and Bryan Stevenson, coming in November 2021 from Penguin Random House.

“Nikole Hannah-Jones has been on the forefront of exploring the legacy of slavery in present-day America, which is also the focus of this project and our work at the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters over the past two decades,” said Ben Simons, Telfair’s CEO/executive director. “We are an institution founded in 1886 by an independent, pioneering woman whose family also derived much of its dynastic wealth from the enslavement of hundreds of Africans. This is not testimony to politics or political correctness—it is a statement of fact. If we want to truly understand our present, we must honestly and thoughtfully examine our past.”

For more information about the Legacy of Slavery in Savannah initiative, visit telfair.org/los.

Legacy of Slavery scholars

1.      Melissa Cooper, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History

Clement A. Price Humanities Scholars Program Director

Rutgers University-Newark

2.      Talitha LeFlouria, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History and Fellow of the Mastin Gentry White Professorship in Southern History

University of Texas at Austin

3.      Andrew Kahrl, Ph.D. 

Professor of History and African American Studies

University of Virginia

4.      Jamil Drake, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in the Religion Department

Florida State University

5.      Fath Davis Ruffins

Curator of African American History and Culture in the Division of Cultural and Community Life

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH)

6.      Jelani Favors

Associate Professor of History

Clayton State University

7.      Maurice Hobson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of African American Studies

Georgia State University

8.      Felicia Jamison, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of History

Drake University

9.      Ann Bailey, Ph.D.

Professor of History and Africana Studies

SUNY Binghamton (State University of New York)

10.   Douglas Blackmon

Professor of Practice / Multimedia and Investigative Journalism

Georgia State University

11.   Mia Bay, Ph.D.

Roy F. and Jeanette P. Nichols Professor of American History

University of Pennsylvania

12.   Tina McElroy Ansa

American novelist

13.   Hilary Green, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History

University of Alabama

14.   Patricia Sullivan, Ph.D.

Professor of History

University of South Carolina

15.   Julie Buckner Armstrong, Ph.D.

Professor of English

University of South Florida

16.  Michele Johnson

Librarian/Assistant Professor of Library Science

College of Coastal Georgia


To learn more about scholarship, email Ahmauri Williams-Alford, assistant curator of historical interpretation and programs, at williamsalforda@telfair.org.

Legacy of Slavery related exhibitions


Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom
Oct. 1, 2021-Jan. 17, 2022 / Jepson Center

Sonya Clark: Finding Freedom will feature a large-scale canopy pieced together from cyanotype reactive fabric squares that were made with the help of workshop participants over the course of Clark’s various residencies. Draped as a night sky overhead, the work offers a celestial viewpoint that encourages vistors to consider freedom-seeking enslaved individuals whose forced labor built America’s wealth. Often under cover of night with bounty hunters at their heels, they used the constellations like the Big Dipper to orient their way north along the Underground Railroad.

Noel W Anderson: Heavy is the Crown
Oct. 1, 2021-Jan. 17, 2022 / Jepson Center

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.

Hard Knocks, Hardships, and Lots of Experience: The Art of William O. Golding
Feb. 4-May 1, 2022 / Jepson Center

Hard Knocks, Hardships, and Lots of Experience: The Art of William O. Golding is the largest museum survey to date of the work of William O. Golding (1874-1943), an African American seaman and artist who condensed a half-century of maritime experience into a series of more than 100 vibrant drawings. Golding’s work, which is rendered in an unforgettable visual style of his own invention, tells a story of maritime history as seen by a Black seaman who left Georgia not long after Reconstruction, spent decades laboring at sea, and returned to the Jim Crow South.

Elegies: Still Lifes in Contemporary Art 
Sept. 16, 2022-Feb. 19, 2023 / Jepson Center

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?”


To learn more about exhibitions, email Erin Dunn, curator of modern and contemporary art, at dunne@telfair.org.


About the Legacy of Slavery in Savannah:

Telfair Museums’ Legacy of Slavery in Savannah initiative is a multiyear project exploring slavery’s effects in Savannah, the South, and the nation today. Begun in 2019, the Legacy of Slavery in Savannah picks up where Telfair’s 2014 Slavery and Freedom in Savannah initiative left off, following slavery’s impact from the end of the Civil War through Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement to the present. Funding for the project is provided by the City of Savannah, the Georgia Council for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the William T. Morris Foundation, the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, and Georgia Southern University. For more information, visit telfair.org/los.

About Telfair Museums:

Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District. The museum encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Telfair Academy. For more information visit telfair.org.