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August 8th: Emancipation Celebrations and African American Resilience

Previous AAHA! conferences have explored the origins of the August 8th celebrations in Greeneville; this year we hope to examine more closely how these celebrations anchored communities in the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction years when segregation began to become entrenched all across the South. How did these celebrations keep communities on that “freedom journey”?  Dr. George White of York University, one of our featured scholars, will present a keynote address entitled Praying with Our Feet: August 8th, Crossing Boundaries, and the Ongoing March to Freedom.   He will look at the ways in which ideas about African American identity and citizenship were debated during this time period and how Emancipation celebrations functioned as important markers of resistance and resilience.  A panel of local historians and community members will discuss the history and meaning of August 8th celebrations in East Tennessee.  Mr. Bill Murrah, Ms. Kendra Hinkle (Andrew Johnson National Historic site), Mr. Ned Arter (descendent of Sam Johnson and owner of the Roosevelt Cane), and Mr. Andre Canty will be on this panel.

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