On October 9, 2015, I had the pleasure of speaking at the 2nd Slave Dwelling Project Conference in North Charleston, South Carolina. The focus of the Slave Dwelling Project as described by the founder, Joseph McGill, has been for the past five years to find extant slave dwellings throughout the United States and utilize the attention garnered by spending nights in them to advocate for the preservation, interpretation, and maintenance of these historic structures. For this year’s conference, the theme was “A History Denied: Preserving Tangible Evidence of Slave Dwellings.”
My talk focused around my ancestors, Ellen and William Craft, and their incredible slave escape from Macon, Georgia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania over four days in 1848. It was an honor to speak because I feel that it is important for the Craft’s story to be told because of the many life lessons that can be learned from their love story and in how they worked together with great courage, faith and perseverance to overcome many obstacles in order to reach freedom.
Joseph McGill’s mission is to identify and assist property owners, government agencies and organizations to preserve slave dwellings. He spends one night in each of the dwellings that he comes across, which is now over 70 dwellings from Massachusetts to Texas.
A great article was recently published on the Slave Dwelling Project entitled The Slave Dwelling Project: Preserving the Structures and Stories of Slavery by Patrick Sisson. The following video, featured in the article, provides a beautiful backdrop for the “Project” that was founded by Joseph McGill.