Moving Beyond Black History Month
New Jersey Authors Partner with Museums and Educators in a State-Wide Symposium about African-American Life and History in the Region
William Trent House Museum and Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) Join Forces to Boost Understanding of African American Presence in Historic Sites and Museums
TRENTON, NJ: February 1, 2017 – On January 24, 2017, an all-day invitational symposium was held at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton, NJ, to discuss how to better include and interpret the history of people of African descent. The symposium was cohosted by two of New Jersey’s public history organizations, the William Trent House Museum Association and the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) Board.
The symposium engaged influencers from the museum community, along with members of local and state historic commissions, including the New Jersey Council on the Humanities, New Jersey Historical Society, Pennsbury Manor, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown/Jamestown, the William Trent House, and the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum. The discussion centered on correcting a historical narrative that has often overlooked the presence and contributions of African Americans over the past 300 years.
“We are very grateful to Beverly Mills and Elaine and John Buck, from the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, for bringing their informative presentation about the African American presence in the region to the Trent House last April,” remarked Sam Stephens, Vice President of the Trent House. “At that presentation, we were challenged to answer our own questions about the history of the Trent House concerning the contributions of the Africans enslaved there. This spurred us to think about how we could work together to ensure that the lives of all people of African descent who lived in the region would be acknowledged.”
The event was moderated by Linda Caldwell-Epps, President of 1804 Consultants and former CEO of the New Jersey Historical Society. “I was proud to be part of an amazing conversation centered on how to give voice and pay homage to those whose toil helped to give definition to this experiment we call the United States of America,” reflected Caldwell-Epps. “The Symposium gave me hope that one day we will live out those principles set forth by our ancestors—those principles that advocate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all citizens.” By invitation only, observers from the educational sector, historic institutions, museums, and the archeology field were encouraged to participate in the discussion on questions that included:
- How can historic sites and institutions confirm the significant influence African Americans have had on the development of American society and culture?
- How can historic sites and institutions prepare their leadership and staff to present the lives of people of African descent in authentic, deep, and nuanced ways?
- How can historic sites and institutions engage visitors in understanding difficult issues relating to slavery, injustice, discrimination, and racism while recognizing and dealing with discomfort and resistance that may arise?
- How can historic sites help visitors see the connection between the experiences of African Americans in the past and our society and our lives today?
Participants all agreed and acknowledged that interpreting difficult history is challenging and will require a series of steps and follow-up symposiums. “We are heartened that so many stakeholders around the state of New Jersey showed up and deeply engaged in a long overdue conversation about race, history, and how African American histories are interpreted at historic sites and museums,” notes Elaine Buck, co-author with Beverly Mills of the forthcoming If These Stones Could Talk: The African American Presence in the Hopewell Valley and Surrounding Areas, to be published by Wild River Books. Buck continues, “We look at our work as one important example of presenting stories and typically invisible histories in our state’s past. We are thankful to the boards of the William Trent House and the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) for opening up the difficult conversations that can lead us to future symposiums as well as a state-wide resource bank.”
About the William Trent House Museum: Owned, maintained, and operated by the City of Trenton with assistance from The Trent House Association, the 1719 William Trent House is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Sites and designated a National Landmark by Congress. The meticulously restored house, kitchen garden, and apple orchard provide visitors with a glimpse into life in pre-Revolutionary America, with its interpretation of the lives of the diverse Trent household, which included family members and enslaved and indentured servants. www.williamtrenthouse.org
About the Stoutsburg Sourland African-American Museum (SSAAM): The Stoutsburg Cemetery Association, in partnership with the Sourland Conservancy, is creating an educational museum to interpret and promote the early history and rich legacy of African Americans in this area. The Sourland Mountain African American Museum will be first African American museum in Central New Jersey. Residents and visitors will learn about the history of African Americans in the Sourlands and Hopewell Valley. School and community groups will have educational cultural and community-building experiences. www.facebook.com/pg/stoutsburgsourlandafricanamericanmuseum/about/
About Wild River Publishing: With over thirty years of publishing experience, Wild River Books upholds the top standards of the industry and offers strategic publishing solutions for the 21st century. Through Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC, Wild River Books also runs the international online literary and arts magazine Wild River Review (www.wildriverreview.com) with over 10,000 Facebook followers and loyal readers from every corner of the world. https://www.facebook.com/wildriverreview/
Contact: Kimberly Nagy.
Founder and Principal. Kimberly Nagy received a BA in history at Rider University where she was influenced by professors who stressed works of literature alongside dates and historical facts–as well as the importance of including the perspectives of women and minorities in the historical record.
During a period in which she fell in love with writing and research, Nagy wrote an award-winning paper about the suppression of free speech during World War I, and which featured early 20th century feminist and civil rights leader, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
Nagy continued her graduate studies at University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she studied with Dr. Karen Kupperman, an expert in early contact between Native Americans and the first European settlers. Nagy has an extensive background and interest in anthropological, oral history and cultural research.
Nagy pursued a publishing career in which she worked for two of the world’s foremost publishers-Princeton University Press and W.W. Norton - as well as at Thomson, Institutional Investor Magazine, Routledge UK, and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. She extensive experience in editorial management and marketing/ public relations for corporations, publishers, state agencies, and nonprofits.
Combining her love of writing, editing and publishing, Nagy is an editor, poet and professional storyteller who helps clients discover, rediscover and deepen their authentic voice as well as sculpt good ideas into refined, structurally-sound articles, essays, brochures, and book-length manuscripts (among other written communications). Nagy has worked for authors, publishers, businesses, non-profit organizations, and universities alike. In partnership with poet and award-winning literary journalist Joy Stocke, Nagy is a principal of Wild River Consulting and Publishing (WRCP) Services which offers comprehensive manuscript evaluations, coaching, social media guidance, publishing advice (in a rapidly changing landscape) and enthusiasm for the writing process itself. Stocke and Nagy mentor many talented students and clients.
Partnering with Stocke, Nagy serves as Executive Editor for Wild River Review, an internationally renowned non-profit cultural literary magazine, for which Nagy commissions articles and curates content. Noted by the Utne Reader for exceptionally interesting interviews, Nagy has profiled many artists, writers, philosophers, poets, film-makers, photographers, and business leaders who are making a beneficial difference in the world.
Praised for her literary yet down-to-earth style, Kimberly Nagy is the author of the column (and forthcoming book) Triple Goddess Trials, a mythology/memoir that draws on the divine feminine archetype, phases of the moon, and timeless stories (Medea, Aphrodite, Kali and Syrinx to name but a few) to shed light on women’s experiences in the modern world. Readers have called Nagy’s work “thought-provoking,” “funny,” “deeply important” “inspiring” and “real.”