Arcadia Hosts Race Historian Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar

March 7, 2019 Jennifer Retter

Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar at Arcadia.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar, author and Charles and Mary Beard professor of History at Rutgers University, discussed female abolitionists and runaway slaves at Arcadia on March 5. After, attendees watched Sisters in Freedom, a documentary on which Dr. Armstrong Dunbar consulted.

Dr. Armstrong Dunbar also met with students in Arcadia’s “The African American Experience in Philadelphia” course, which explores the complex history of Africans/African Americans in Philadelphia from the late 1700s to present day. She spoke about her research on Ona Judge, the escaped slave of George Washington and subject of her new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. Named a non-fiction finalist for the National Book Awards, the book addresses a gap in American history, as George Washington is seldom discussed as a slave-holding president.

“As a social historian, Dr. Dunbar represents a very small number of African American women scholars who study black life, culture, and gender up to the Civil War,” said ACT 101/Gateway to Success Director Dr. Angela McNeil, who teaches the course.  “Her research provides a balanced, truer version of American history. It is inclusive of individuals who have been systematically hidden from the annals of history.”

During the lecture, Dr. Armstrong Dunbar delved further into the history of Philadelphia, highlighting how the city served as a major Underground Railroad stop and a center of hope for African Americans. The evening concluded with a book signing.

In collaboration with “The African American Experience in Philadelphia” class, Dr. Armstrong Dunbar’s lecture was hosted by Institutional Diversity, Black Awareness Society, Act 101/Gateway to Success, Undergraduate and Graduate Studies, POWER, Melanin in Action, University Relations, Enrollment Management, Engagement and New Student Programs, Pan African Studies, and Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice.

About Dr. Armstrong Dunbar

Dr. Armstrong Dunbar has published in Yale and New York University Press, The New York Times, The Nation, TIME, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. For the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, she co-edited a special issue of Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. She also serves on the editorial board for the Race in the Atlantic World series, is a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and was appointed inaugural director of the African American History program at the Library Company of Philadelphia in 2011.

Never Caught is currently in the screenwriting phase for a major motion film.

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