Inaugural U.Va. Book Talks Feb. 24 Focus on Black History

February 14, 2012

February 14, 2012 — Slavery at Monticello and the 19th-century free black woman, abolitionist and women's rights activist Maria Stewart are the topics of the first "Talk About Books" event, an occasional series sponsored by the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African-American and African Studies in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences.

The authors of two new books will discuss their work on Feb. 24 at 3:30 p.m. in Rouss Hall, room 403.

The authors are Lucia "Cinder" Stanton,
senior research historian at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, who wrote "'Those Who Labor for My Happiness': Slavery at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello," and Valerie Cooper,
assistant professor of religious studies [link: artsandsciences.virginia.edu/religiousstudies/] in the College,
author of "Word, Like Fire: Maria Stewart, the Bible and the Rights of African Americans," published by the University of Virginia Press.

Coinciding with the publication of Stanton's book, an exhibition, "Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty," opened Jan. 27 at the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington, D.C., and is co-sponsored by the Jefferson Foundation.

Stanton's detailed reconstruction reveals the active roles played by enslaved African-Americans in the creation of a dynamic community at Monticello. The essays collected in her book address a variety of topics, from family histories – including the Hemingses – to the temporary slave community at Jefferson's White House to stories of former slaves' lives after Monticello, including those who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Cooper's book tells the story of Maria Stewart, a free black woman born in Hartford, Conn. in 1803, who is believed by many to have been the first American woman of any race to give public political speeches. Although Stewart worked as a domestic servant, she became an essayist, abolitionist and women's rights activist.

The Woodson Institute's "Talk About Books" will be held occasionally, featuring brief presentations on, and discussions of, newly published books by U.Va. faculty, affiliates and former fellows.

— By Anne Bromley