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Writing the Nelly Van Vactor Story

Even before the Civil War Nelly VanVactor  gained her freedom and was given substantial property by her former owner upon his death.  Greeneville historian and genealogist Stevie Hughes will present what is known about the life of Nelly VanVactor and her descendents and discuss how she discovered this remarkable story of the first woman of color in Tennessee to own property.

Dr. Artress Bethany White, Associate Professor of English at Carson Newman College will present a poetry reading and also speak on the ways in which contemporary poetry and drama is being used to recover the voices of African Americans across our history. She is a scholar, a poet, and a playwright who writes and speaks on African American women authors and their contributions to American culture. In 2009 she wrote and presented a one-woman play on the life of Jarenna Lee, a 19th century African American woman evangelist.  She and Hughes will lead a discussion of the life of Nelly Van Vactor and how that story might be preserved for the community.


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