Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is partnering with other local and national groups to celebrate Black History Month this February. In conjunction with Bright Star Theatre, the Nashville Public Library, the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Tennessee State University, author Jesse J. Holland, and music group The Princely Players, the presidential home will host four interactive and educational programs throughout the month.
“We are honored to be able to present the 2017 Black History Month series that is rich with meaning and poignancy for all Americans. Likewise, we are honored to be collaborating with leading Nashville organizations and institutions to present this year’s series,” said Howard Kittell, CEO of Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage.
As part of this year’s commemoration, The Hermitage developed a first edition of an African-American History Toolkit containing photographs, information on artifacts, and other resources exploring African-American history on a local, regional and national scale.
Through oral histories, genealogy research, and archaeological digs The Hermitage has traced the lives of several families of the site’s enslaved community from slavery to freedom.
“As historians, we have a responsibility to convey to our visitors that these individuals were more than just characters in events void of agency, but human beings with many layers who contributed greatly in the shaping of our nation’s destiny,” said Ashley Bouknight, assistant curator at The Hermitage.
The toolkit will be available online beginning Feb. 1, and free hard copies will be available upon request at The Hermitage Visitor Center. The full schedule of Black History Month events is listed below. You can view these and other Hermitage events online at http://thehermitage.com/.
2017 Black History Month Schedule
Songs of Freedom: An Interactive Kid’s Program
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Saturday, Feb. 4
Bring your kids for a fun and educational performance of “Freedom Songs: The Music of Black History,” with the national production company Bright Star Theatre. From the work songs of slavery and the hymns of the Underground Railroad to the blues of Beale Street and the anthems of the civil rights movement, actor/singers will tell the stories behind these famous and forgotten hymns, work songs and musical styles from across continents, genres and centuries. Following the program, kids will have a chance to make their own musical instruments and perform a grand finale parade. Complimentary cupcakes will be served.
Researching African-American Family History and Genealogy
Nashville Public Library, Downtown Branch
Saturday, Feb. 11
Interested in discovering your family’s roots? Wanting to preserve your family’s mementos and photographs? Join us for a free afternoon workshop on genealogy and preservation at the Nashville Public Library. The African-American Historical and Genealogical Society will be discussing how to get started with your genealogy research and some of the resources available.
Following the presentation, AAHGS members will be on hand to meet with individuals and answer specific questions about your family research. Hermitage staff will be available to discuss options for preserving family photos and antique keepsakes for the long term.
Slavery in the White House With Jesse Holland
Otis L. Floyd – Joseph A. Payne Campus Center, Tennessee State University
Saturday, Feb. 18
Author Jesse J. Holland will speak on his latest historical work “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African-American Slaves in the White House” – the first book to tell the story of the enslaved residents who built and lived in our nation’s most recognizable home. Holland will highlight some of the untold stories of these men and women, especially those who came from Tennessee during the presidencies of Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A and book-signing.
Annual Memorial Service
Saturday, Feb. 25
Hermitage Church, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Join us for our annual commemoration of those who were enslaved here at The Hermitage and throughout the country. The music group The Princely Players will perform a musical timeline of African-American music, from arrival to the Americas to emancipation. The performance will conclude with a procession to the enslaved memorial behind the Hermitage Church. Attendees can help lay 150 flowers, marked with the names of all those known to have been enslaved at The Hermitage. Hot chocolate will be served following the service.
About The Hermitage
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage: Home of the People’s President is one of the largest, most well-preserved and most visited presidential homes in the United States. Opened to the public in 1889, The Hermitage is one of America’s first presidential museums. Today, The Hermitage is a 1,120-acre National Historic Landmark with 27 historic buildings, including Jackson’s mansion and tomb, restored slave cabins, a church, and gardens. In recent years, new interpretive initiatives and educational programs such as archaeology and the history of slavery, as well as Andrew Jackson: Born for a Storm, a new state-of-the-art exhibit that delves into the life of Andrew Jackson, including his military and presidential careers have enriched the site experience for 180,000 visitors annually. The Foundation anticipates an increased attendance of more than 200,000 guests for the current fiscal year. For more information, visit www.thehermitage.com.