2019 Conference

The Vesey Conspiracy at 200: Black Anti-Slavery in the Atlantic World

February 8-10, 2019

Image: “Sustenance Rise” by Jonathan Greene

Cosponsored by the Carolina Low Country in the Atlantic World Program at the College of Charleston and by Soka University of America

In preparation for a volume of essays to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the “Denmark Vesey Conspiracy” of 1822, the Carolina Lowcountry in the Atlantic World Program (CLAW) at the College of Charleston will hold a small conference on enslaved and free black anti-slavery, February 8-10, 2019.

Keynote speakers will include Bernie Powers (author of Black Charlestonians) and Michael Moore (executive director of the International African American Museum). Other featured participants include Manisha Sinha, Douglas Egerton, Samuel Ntewusu, and Rebecca Shumway.

Known to scholars mainly as a conspiracy of Carolina slaves, the “Denmark Vesey Conspiracy” also ensnared free black people and should be treated as a part of the broader black anti-slavery movement. Some of the rebels were aware of the Missouri Compromise debates over slavery. They compared Carolina whites to those national leaders who they thought wanted to end slavery. Some of the rebels were aware of the Sierra Leone colony of freed slaves and probably had known free and enslaved people who emigrated there in 1821. Some were aware of revolutionary Haiti. Some were born in Africa. In the truest sense, there were African, American, and Atlantic dimensions to the 1822 rebels’ organizing.


Friday, February 8

LUNCH: Noon-2pm boxed lunch & greetings

Panel 1 – 2:15pm-3:45pm: Survivance & Memory 1
(Addlestone 227)
Sarah Stegeman – Imagined Africa in Nineteenth-Century America
Terri L. Snyder – Slavery, Resistance, and Memory in South Carolina and Georgia
Ethan Kytle and Blaine Roberts – Freedom Fighter or Attila the Hun? How Charlestonians Remembered Vesey, 1822-2014

Panel 2 – 4:00pm – 5:30pm: Comparative Free Black Abolition
(Addlestone 227)
Kelli Cardenas Walsh – Resistance to slavery by two freemen from North Carolina
Maria Alejandra Aguilar Dornelles – Heroes of Freedom: Leadership and Black heroism in Pre-Abolition Rio de Janeiro
Lucien Holness – African American Antislavery Activism in Southwestern Pennsylvania

RECEPTION:  5:45-8:30 Reception &

Keynote: Bernie Powers (author of Black Charlestonians). Introduction by Spady

Saturday, February 9

Panel 3 – 9:00am – 10:30am: Knowing Legacies
(Addlestone 227)
Jessica S. Samuel – African American Youth and Overlooked Traditional Ways of Knowing
Rachel C. Kirby – Painting Away the Shackles of Slavery: Exploring Jonathan Green’s Depictions of an “Unenslaved” Lowcountry
Aretha Phiri – Resisting Legacies of Enslavement: A Literary Analysis

Panel 4 – 10:45 – 12:15pm: Black Fugitivity in the Contemporary World  (Addlestone 227)
Jesse Olsavsky – Fugitive Slaves, Abolitionists, and the Critique of the Prison
Cheryl E. Mango – Black Radicalism, Black Consciousness, Black History, and Black YouTube
Karen Salt – Resistance to Memory: Movement Loss, Protest Ghosts, & the Racial Life of Fugitivity.

Catered lunch Plenary: “Black Resistance to Slavery and Racism: American and African Histories”
Douglas Egerton, Ada Ferer, Samuel Ntewusu, Manisha Sinha, and Rebecca Shumway.

Panel 5 – 2:15pm – 3:45pm: Surivance & Memory
(Addlestone 227)
Patrick H. Breen – On Resistance
William D. Jones – The Irony of St. Malo: Memories of Rebellion in Nineteenth-Century Louisiana
Douglas R. Egerton – “To See What He Could Do for His Fellow Creatures”: Enslaved Women, Families, and Survivors in North American Slave Conspiracies

Panel 6 – 4:00pm-5:30pm: Re-writing Slave Resistance
(Addlestone 227)
Anita Rupprect & Cathy Bergin – Writing Reparative Histories of Connection: The 1831 Tortola Slave Conspiracy in the Atlantic World
Brent Morris – “The Celebrated bandit Joe”: Uncovering Forest Joe’s Lowcountry Maroon Campaign of 1821-1823
Susanna Ashton – The White Preacher & the Black Slave Lecturer
Robert L. Paquette – Before Denmark Vesey: Federalists and ‘French Negroes’ in the Politics of Lowcountry South Carolina

KEYNOTE: 6:00pm
Introductory remarks
Speaker: Michael Moore (executive director of the International African American Museum)

Sunday, February 10

Sunday service: Mother Emanuel
Tour: Stono Rebellion marker

Tour: Tour of Vesey conspiracy & memory sites in Charleston