In Search of David Twine (c. 1824-1894), Smithsonian Coachman

One of the more fascinating individuals interred in Mount Zion Cemetery in north Georgetown, District of Columbia, is David Twine (c.1824-1894). Twine was a lifelong hack driver and coachman in the District of Columbia, who for the last decade of his life was employed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum, serving as a coachman, in turn,Continue reading “In Search of David Twine (c. 1824-1894), Smithsonian Coachman”

In Search of Isadore (Israel) Epstein, c. 1887-1952

Like many members of my family, I have been rather uncertain about the early life and background of my mother’s father, Isadore Epstein, who was evidently born 17 April 1886 or 1887 and who died 30 July 1952 in Philadelphia, PA. To begin with, we have been uncertain of his parentage or the location ofContinue reading “In Search of Isadore (Israel) Epstein, c. 1887-1952”

What these Trees have Seen: Slavery, Post-Slavery, and Anti-Blackness in the South River (Welaunee) Forest Zone

Mark Auslander and Avis E. Williams23 April 2022 The proposed South River (Welaunee) Forest zone spans approximately 3,500 acres in southeastern Fulton County and southeastern unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia. The land is in the watershed of the South River, evidently referenced as the Welaunee or Weelaunee by indigenous Muscogee Creek inhabitants. This land has aContinue reading “What these Trees have Seen: Slavery, Post-Slavery, and Anti-Blackness in the South River (Welaunee) Forest Zone”

Songs of the Forest: A “Re-matriation” Gathering in Weelaunee (South River) Forest

My collaborator Rev. Avis Williams and I were delighted to be asked to participate in the recent April 22-23 gathering/conference/songfest/happening/summit called, “Singing ourselves back together: Community in Weelaunee.” The event brought together a range of organizations and movements, united by shared, urgent concern over the fate of the “South River Forest zone” around the headwatersContinue reading “Songs of the Forest: A “Re-matriation” Gathering in Weelaunee (South River) Forest”

In Search of the “Welaunee” (South River, Georgia)

Rev. Avis Williams and I recently published an essay an contested Afro-indigenous and white historical narratives of the watercourse known as “Dried Indian Creek,” which runs through Newton County, Georgia. In local African American memory, this disturbing term was derived from the early lynching of a Native American leader by white settlers in the lateContinue reading “In Search of the “Welaunee” (South River, Georgia)”

Czernowitz Art in Peril: The Mosaic Mural of Joseph Lang

The noted curator and art historian Tetyana Dugaeva has been attempting to call global attention to the unthinkable threats posed to the artistic treasures, cultural heritage, and peoples of her beloved city of Czernowitz (Chernivtsi) in southwestern Ukraine, in the face of the unfolding Russian invasion. She recently updated her Facebook home page image toContinue reading “Czernowitz Art in Peril: The Mosaic Mural of Joseph Lang”

Setting a Dream in Motion: Reflections on The 2021 “Red Road” National Story Pole Journey

“Carving is the result of dream, a vision, or a spiritual message”-Pauline Hillaire, Lummi historian and story-teller In July 2021 the “Red Road to DC” project traveled across the country to present the Biden Administration with a twenty-four foot carved story pole created by members of House of Tears carvers of the Lummi Nation. VisitingContinue reading “Setting a Dream in Motion: Reflections on The 2021 “Red Road” National Story Pole Journey”

Race and Gender in de Benabarre’s Saint Michael Angel (c. 1470)

Recently my Decolonizing Museums seminar (Boston University) had a fascinating visit with the interpretive staff at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The team shared their innovative approach to engaging visitors with Pedro García de Benabarre’s magnificent painting Saint Michael Archangel (c. 1470), which hangs over a large fireplace in the second floor Tapestry Room. IContinue reading “Race and Gender in de Benabarre’s Saint Michael Angel (c. 1470)”

Panegyric Imagery in Zanele Muholi’s “Somnyama Ngonyama”

Zanele Muholi’s photographic series of digitally altered self-portraits “Somnyama Ngonyama” (translated by the artist as “Hail, the Dark Lioness”) consists of carefully posed images taken in locations around the world, through which the artist-activist gives voice to a vast number of black South Africans, primarily LGBTQ, long relegated by dominant social institutions to the shadowsContinue reading “Panegyric Imagery in Zanele Muholi’s “Somnyama Ngonyama””

Reflections on Creek Freedmen and Legacies of Enslavement at Emory University

Recently, I gave an invited presentation at the symposium “In the Wake of Slavery and Dispossession: Emory, Racism, and the Journey Towards Restorative Justice” (September 29-October 1, 2021) at Emory University. The gathering sought to draw attention to two critical aspects of Emory’s early history, the enslavement of African Americans, whose coerced labor enabled theContinue reading “Reflections on Creek Freedmen and Legacies of Enslavement at Emory University”