The Slave Dwelling Project’s Living History Program
May 20, 2017 from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
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Led by the nationally renowned Slave Dwelling Project, a nonprofit working to identify and preserve former slave dwellings, examine and explore the lives of Poplar Forest’s enslaved community. Live demonstrations of outdoor cooking, blacksmithing, storytelling and more will take place throughout the day. Enslaved Community Tours will also be available.
Admission to the living history program is $10 and includes access to the Poplar Forest grounds, the Wing of Offices and exhibits in the lower level of the house. Additional fee for a house tour.
Slave Dwelling Project Member Biographies
Jerome Bias makes furniture using 18th-century woodworking techniques and he’s also a cook. One reason he sleeps overnight in slave dwellings and cooks at the living history programs is so children and youth will see their ancestors—will see enslaved people—as human beings with fully rounded lives, not just suffering stereotypes. “I want them to look at enslaved people as talented, life-living individuals who made quilts to sleep under, sewed clothes for their children, built cabins, grew vegetables and invented recipes for tasty meals using whatever was at hand,” he says.
Christine Mitchell is a cook assistant and historian with the Slave Dwelling Project and an historical interpreter with the Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Mitchell moved from Atlanta to Charleston in 2013 to be near family, and is a third-generation descendant of slaves who lived in the community. “To be here and to help educate people who are coming here from all over the world, I am giving honor to the ones that never had a voice,” she says.
Joseph McGill is the founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, beginning it over five years ago. He previously worked for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has been a Civil War reenactor for over 20 years. He has spent nights in over 80 slave dwellings, including in the states of Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Gilbert Walker, Jr. has practiced his blacksmithing trade since 2004. Walker, the descendant of Gullah people along the coast, considers blacksmithing a dying art among blacks and one he wants to preserve. “Growing up in Savannah, as a descendant of the Gullah people along the coast, I tell their story through art as I force my will onto the elements,” Walker said. “My business is based on the life and history of the Gullah people of the southeast.”