Descendants of Families Enslaved at Monticello to Speak at Quick Center, Feb. 12

Descendants of Families Enslaved at Monticello to Speak at Quick Center, Feb. 12

(l-r) Andrew M. Davenport and Gayle Jessup White

(l-r) Andrew M. Davenport and Gayle Jessup White

The upcoming Open VISIONS Forum on Feb. 12 will welcome Gayle Jessup White and Andrew M. Davenport MA'17 to discuss “A Report from Monticello: Restoring African American Narratives to Thomas Jefferson’s Plantation," at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

Fairfield University’s Open VISIONS Forum (OVF) will host a compelling and timely discussion on racism, politics, power, and slavery at the Quick Center on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 8 p.m. 

Journalist Gayle Jessup White and historian Andrew M. Davenport MA’17, cousins and descendants of families enslaved by Founding Father and third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, will present “A Report from Monticello: Restoring African American Narratives to Thomas Jefferson’s Plantation," in a discussion to be moderated by Professor Philip Eliasoph, PhD, OVF founder and director.

White and Davenport’s illustrated presentation will deepen our understanding of U.S. history, and will serve as a model for all those curious and courageous enough to examine their own personal histories.

For generations, historians and the American public alike ignored the stories of descendants of the Founding Father’s enslaved families. In 1993, the “Getting Word” oral history project at Jefferson’s Monticello plantation began identifying descendants and recording their oral histories.

“Getting Word” has significantly changed the interpretation of African-American life during enslavement under Thomas Jefferson. In a 2018 article for Smithsonian magazine, Davenport wrote, “The research that has come out of the 25 years of Getting Word’s existence has in many ways been the invisible hand behind the visitor experience at Monticello … where about 400 enslaved laborers worked at one point in their lives.”

Andrew M. Davenport, a 2008 graduate of Fairfield College Preparatory School is a writer, editor, and teacher. A graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio, he received a master’s degree in American Studies from Fairfield University and is currently pursing his doctorate in U.S. history at Georgetown University. Davenport researched “Getting Word” while a Robert H. Smith Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies in July 2017, and recently served as an adjunct professor of African American Art History at Fairfield University. He is currently a research assistant with the Georgetown Slavery Archive. 

Gayle Jessup White began her career at The New York Times and was an award-winning TV reporter before becoming Monticello’s first community engagement officer in 2016. She is not only a direct Jefferson descendant, but is related to two well-documented families enslaved at Monticello – the Hemingses and the Hubbards. White has written and spoken extensively about her work at Monticello and about her family’s ties to Jefferson, his extended family, and the enslaved community.

This Open VISIONS Forum is generously sponsored by TV Eyes, the Artisan, Moffly Media, Delamar Southport, and Delamar Spa. Tickets are $20 | Quick Members: $15. For more information or to reserve your seat, visit www.quickcenter.com or call the Box Office at 203-254-4010, or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

Open VISIONS Forum: Gayle Jessup White and Andrew M. Davenport MA'17
“A Report from Monticello: Restoring African American Narratives to Thomas Jefferson’s Plantation"

Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, Fairfield University

Additional Details:

This Open VISIONS Forum is generously sponsored by TV Eyes, the Artisan, Moffly Media, Delamar Southport, and Delamar Spa. Tickets are $20 | Quick Members: $15. For more information or to reserve your seat, visit www.quickcenter.com or call the Box Office at 203-254-4010, or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Last modified: 01-31-20 9:02 AM

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