A Symposium Exploring Slavery, Emancipation and Reconstruction

A Symposium Exploring Slavery, Emancipation and Reconstruction April 13, 2016

mm-1866-1This post is part of the Memories of a Massacre Project: Memphis in 1866. This project is designed to bring to public attention the massacre that rattled Reconstruction-era Memphis in May 1866.

On May 20-21, 2016, the University of Memphis will host “Memories of a Massacre: Memphis in 1866, a Symposium Exploring Slavery, Emancipation, and Reconstruction.”  The culmination of a semester-long series of lectures, workshops, discussions, and book talks, this symposium will feature historians and scholars from across the country, including Robert K. Sutton, Chief Historian of the National Park Service.  Together, their presentations and the ensuing discussions will pry open what has for 150-years been the carefully concealed history of Reconstruction, its legacies, and the significant role that Memphis played in both. Please join us as we reflect collectively on a wave of terror that rocked a city and changed a nation.

Free and open to the public, “Memories of a Massacre” will take place at the University of Memphis, University Center Theater. Travel directions and parking information are available on the University Center website.  A block of rooms has been reserved for Thursday and Friday nights at the Holiday Inn Memphis-University of Memphis. Please call 901-678-8200 and mention the Memphis Massacre Symposium or go online and use the booking code MMS on or before midnight May 1st, 2016.  The group discounted room rate is $125.00 per room per night plus taxes.


University of Memphis, University Center Theater

We will live tweet the symposium using #memphismassacre1866. Please follow @MemphisMassacre, @aejohnsonphd, @bondbeverly100, @odonovanse1


8:15am-8:30am:Welcome by Karen Weddle-West, Provost, University of Memphis

8:30am-10:45pm: Slavery and Slave Life in the Mississippi Valley

Joshua D. Rothman, University of Alabama,The Cotton Economy and the Rebirth of American Slavery” Twitter Handle@rothmanistan

J. Calvin Schermerhorn, Arizona State,  Cash for Slaves’: The African American Trail of Tears” Twitter Handle@CalScherm

Max Grivno, University of Southern Mississippi, “Death on the River: Slavery in the Yazoo Mississippi Delta”

Moderator: Madeleine C. Taylor, Executive Director, NAACP Memphis

11:00am-1:15pm: Civil War and Emancipation in the Mississippi Valley

Joseph P. Reidy, Howard University, “Black Soldiers and Sailors: Rebuilding Families and the Nation amidst the Chaos of Civil War in the Mississippi Valley”

Jim Downs, Connecticut College, “Dying to be Free: The Deadly Consequences of Emancipation” Twitter Handle: @jimdowns1

John C. Rodrigue, Stonehill College, “From Emancipation to Abolition in Civil-War Tennessee”

Moderator: Femi I. Ajanaku, Director, Center for African & African American Studies, LeMoyne-Owen College Twitter Handle: @izegbe

Lunch break

2:15pm-4:30pm: Giving Meaning to Freedom

Susan Eva O’Donovan, University of Memphis, “The Problem of Freedom in the Era of Emancipation” Twitter Handle: @odonovanse1

Kate Masur, Northwestern University, “Urban Battlegrounds: Reconstruction in Southern Cities” Twitter Handle: @katemasur

Elizabeth L. Jemison, Clemson University, “Christianity, Race, and Politics after Emancipation.” Twitter Handle: @eljemison

Moderator: Ladrica Menson-Furr, Director of African & African American Studies, University of Memphis

6:00-8:00: Keynote Address (reception at 5:30pm)

Robert K. Sutton, Chief Historian of the National Park Service, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of American History: Remembering Reconstruction”

Opening remarks by Ronald A. Walter, President and General Manager, WREG-TV, Memphis

Moderator: Aram Goudsouzian, Chair, Department of History, University of Memphis


8:30am-10:45am: The Memphis Massacre

Stephen V. Ash, University of Tennessee, “A Massacre in Memphis: May 1866”

Hannah Rosen, College of William and Mary, “Race, Gender, and Sexual Violence during the Memphis Massacre”

Andrew Slap, East Tennessee State University, “On Duty in Memphis: Fort Pickering’s African American Soldiers”

Moderator: Bobby Lovett, Professor Emeritus, Tennessee State University

11:00am-1:15pm: The Radicalization of Reconstruction

Julie Saville, University of Chicago, “Looking Forward: Reconstruction and the Black Organizing Tradition after Slavery”

Carole Emberton, SUNY-Buffalo, “’The Violent Bear It Away’: White Responses to Black Political Mobilization during Reconstruction”Twitter Handle: @CaroleEmberton

Timothy S. Huebner, Rhodes College, “Constitutionalism and Violence in the Era of Reconstruction”

Moderator: Antoinette Van Zelm, Assistant Director for the Center for Historic Preservation, Middle Tennessee State University

Lunch break

2:15pm-4:30pm: Remembering Reconstruction

Cecelia E. O’Leary, Cal-State Monterey Bay, “’Lies Agreed Upon’: The Politics of Historical Memory”

Andre E. Johnson, University of Memphis “’If I See Next March”: Henry McNeal Turner and the Rhetorical Legacy of Reconstruction Twitter Handle: @aejohnsonphd

Peter R. Gathje, Memphis Theological Seminary, Religion and Reconstruction: Lesson for Today? Twitter Handle: @petegath

Charles McKinney, Rhodes College, “Reconstruction’s Protean Post-Civil Rights Legacy” Twitter Handle: @kmt188

Moderator: Steve Masler, Manager of the Exhibit Department, Pink Palace Museum, Memphis

4:30pm: Closing remarks by the Hon. Bernice B. Donald Presiding, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


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