Starting Oct. 8, the Telfair Museums will be presenting a learning opportunity unlike any other.
The museums will be hosting 12 of the nation’s top scholars in African-American studies in a series of virtual lectures through Zoom, which are free to the public. The lectures will feature question and answer sessions with the authors as well.
"This quite ambitious project will last a whole year. It will be filled with lectures, books and of course artwork. This is all a part of the ’Legacy of Slavery in Savannah Initiative.’ As we all know when it comes to the subject of slavery, we have only scratched the surface of history," Shannon Browning-Mullis, Curator of History and Decorative Arts for Telfair Museums said.
"In some ways, these are things people did not know (about the subject), but, in some ways, these are things people did not want to talk about. We are still suffering from extreme inequality, and for that reason, we are bringing in this initiative how the legacies of enslavement continues are affecting our community today.
"We invited a group of scholars from all around the country who will be researching different aspects of the ’Legacy of Slavery’ depending on their area of expertise," she added.
"They will be presenting all their research at the end of the lectures in a symposium to be held in October 2021. 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."
Browning-Mullis hopes this initiative will help not only interested residents, but also educators.
"We believe these series could be beneficial not only to those community members that wish to take part of the discussion and learn more about the subject, but we think educators could use some of these lectures to enrich any curriculum already established whether that is at a high school or at a college level."
There will be 12 books presented during the year long project and virtual book club, but Browning-Mullis said they have partnered with the community to make the materials readily accessible to all.
"We have partnered with Live Oak Public Libraries as well as with the Beaufort County Library and The Book Lady," she said.
"Both Live Oak Libraries and The Book Lady have promised to carry all the books included in the series in case anyone wishes to read these books ahead of the lectures. Julie Armstrong’s ’Mary Turner and the Memory of Lynching’ will be the first book and lecture in the series."
Along with the lecture will be a visual component in the exhibitions from visual artist Sonya Clark, including "Finding Freedom," which 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.
Clark will also hold a workshop in Savannah in Summer 2021 to allow residents to create their own cyanotypes.
The second exhibit is by artist Noel W. Anderson "Heavy is the Crown" and it 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.