February, 9, 2011
The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will host Joseph McGill who will speak about his Slave Cabin Project on Monday, Feb. 14, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The lecture, entitled “Sleeping in Slave Cabins,” is part of the Division’s Black History Month programming. The evening will begin at 6 p.m., with a reception in the Great Hall and move into the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at 7 p.m., for the lecture. The reception and lecture are free and open to the public.
McGill is a program officer at the Southern Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Charleston, S.C. He began his project of sleeping in slave cabins and sharing his experiences with the public in May 2010. His talks provide a fresh perspective on the historical and social significance of slavery and honor the memories of the people who lived in these slave cabins.
When McGill started staying in slave dwellings, “it was not my intent to move the project out of South Carolina,” he says in his blog on the National Trust website. “But, my duties as a program officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation took me to Montgomery, Ala., for the statewide presentation conference. While there, I could not pass up the opportunity to stay in as many slave dwellings as possible,” he continues.
McGill often works with Terry James, a fellow Civil War reenactor, who accompanies McGill on his trips and sleeps in the cabins as well. On one trip, James brought two authentic pairs of slave shackles and decided to sleep with one pair on. James wanted to get an idea of how slaves felt when they were crammed into the holds of ships during the middle passage. McGill recalls it was “quite haunting to wake up in the night and hear Terry moving around with the shackles attached.”
While in West Virginia, McGill will visit several historic sites in the New River Gorge area and Kanawha and Cabell counties. He also will speak at Charleston Catholic High School, Sacred Heart Grade School, Shoals Elementary School, West Virginia State University and Marshall University.
For more information about McGill’s lecture and the Slave Cabin Project, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220. For more information about McGill, visit his blog at the National Trust website http://blog.preservationnation.org/tag/slave-cabin-project/.
The “Sleeping in Slave Cabins” lecture has been partially financed with federal funds from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior through the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s State Historic Preservation Office. Regulations of the U.S. Department of the Interior strictly prohibit unlawful discrimination in departmental Federally Assisted Programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or handicap. Any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility operated by a recipient of federal assistance should write to Office of Equal Opportunity, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20240.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.