alabama · photography · slavery

talk at Alabama Department of Archives and History went very well today

While visiting the Department of Archives and History, I saw incredible photos by Jim Peppler. The one up top resonates with my interest in our shared past.

I had a great talk at the Alabama Department of Archives and History today even though I was running on fumes. Every copy of my book sold at the gift shop. There were wonderful questions from audience. So glad to see so many eager to discuss our complex past and present.

The presentation largely focused on the formerly enslaved members of the Townsend family of Huntsville, AL. Before the Civil War, they received the equivalent of $5.1 million in today’s currency from their former master and in some cases, father, before his death in 1856.

The event will be posted by the state archives on YouTube soon.

Me and Georgia Ann Hudson, the Alabama Department of History and Archives Communication guru and Kevin Nutt, the event’s amazing tech wiz.

Among the attendees was a wonderful man partly of Native and African descent who wanted to know more about indigenous people-black intimacies. I was happy to mention work of University of Michigan Professor of History Tiya Miles.


It was so cool meeting people who asked about my University of Alabama colleague Hilary Green. Trying to keep strength up for this Saturday’s book reading with Hil at Tuscaloosa’s Earnest and Hadley Booksellers.

Me and Sarah Stroud, Tuscaloosa County’s Bicentennial Master Teacher.

It was great meeting Sarah Stroud, Bicentennial Master Teacher. I look forward to working with her and others as Alabama’s 200th year approaches in 2019.

Meanwhile, the archives has an incredible  exhibit of photography by Jim Peppler up in its museum. My husband and I plan to visit together to see this impressive space. Special thanks to Georgia Ann Hudson, the department’s Communications guru, and Kevin Nutt, the tech maestro, Amy Williamson,Curator of Public Programs and my initial contact, and J. Steven Murray, the Director of ADAH, for making me feel welcomed.

And big warm hug to my colleague Celine Parrenas Shimizu for the energy and support you continue to send as I tackle this difficult subject concerning our complex past. An envelope from you was waiting in today’s mail. You are among the reasons why I love what I do in the academy.

Jim Peppler, a Philadelphia native, took photographs like this for the Southern Courier, a weekly publication covering topics of interest to African American Alabamians from July 1965 to December 1968.

As I drove through the state on Hwy 82, I loved seeing other motorists wondering if Nick Saban is in the fleet car. No, he takes planes and choppers. Off to get rest. Roll Tide.

The UA fleet car I drove to Montgomery always gets looks – especially as I approach Auburn territory

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