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African American Memory and the Civil War presentation at CCCC

Posted Friday, September 16, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - Diaries, memoirs, and stories about the Civil War describe success and tragedy, friendship and courage, abuse and good deeds. African American voices lend a unique perspective to the story of the Civil War years. Drawing from works by African Americans with North Carolina ties, Michelle Lanier will present a talk entitled "A War With Many Voices: African American Memory and the Civil War" on 25 September 2011.

Lanier's program is the third of a series of programs presented by the Chatham County Historical Association, Inc. in observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in North Carolina. The program will be held in the multi-purpose room in Building 2 on the Pittsboro campus of Central Carolina Community College.

Lanier will provide a look at the Civil War through the eyes of black women and men such as Elizabeth Keckley, Anna Julia Cooper, William Henry Singleton, and Pauli Murray. Keckley was born a slave in Virginia but lived for a time in Hillsboro, NC and later St. Louis. She obtained her freedom in 1855 and moved to Washington, D.C., where she for a time was seamstress to Mrs.. Lincoln. Her book, Behind the Scenes or Thirty Years a Slave, was published in 1868 and created something of a sensation in revealing behind the scenes in the White House.

Anna Cooper, born a slave in Wake County, attended St. Augustine's and became a teacher, author and speaker. She graduated from Oberlin in 1884 and wrote A Voice from the South.

William Henry Singleton was born a slave in Craven County. During the Civil War he raised a regiment of freed slaves that became the First North Carolina Colored Regiment. He later became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. His autobiography, Recollections of My Slavery Days, was published in 1922.

Pauli Murray was a descendant of a slave owned by the Smith family, whose plantation was in Orange County, just across the Chatham County line. Her book Proud Shoes describes the memories of slavery days passed down by her ancestors and has passages about both the Smith plantation and Jones Grove, which was adjacent to what is now Fearrington Village.

Ms. Lanier is currently the Acting Director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and Curator of Multicultural Initiatives, North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites & Properties. Michelle also serves as a member of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources "Civil War 150" Committee.

Ms. Lanier's presentation will begin at 2:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Doors open at 2 pm; light refreshments will be served following the presentation. For more information visit, or call 919-542-3603.

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