Panel One: Slavery and Slave Life in the Mississippi Valley

MM-posterOn May 20-21, 2016, the University of Memphis will host “Memories of a Massacre: Memphis in 1866, a Symposium Exploring Slavery, Emancipation, and Reconstruction.”  The culmination of a semester-long series of lectures, workshops, discussions, and book talks, this symposium will feature historians and scholars from across the country, including Robert K. Sutton, Chief Historian of the National Park Service.  Together, their presentations and the ensuing discussions will pry open what has for 150-years been the carefully concealed history of Reconstruction, its legacies, and the significant role that Memphis played in both. Please join us as we reflect collectively on a wave of terror that rocked a city and changed a nation.

Below is the first of our six panels.

Second Panel

Third Panel

Fourth Panel

Fifth Panel

Sixth Panel

Friday May 20, 2016


rothman-josh-08Joshua D. Rothman, University of Alabama,The Cotton Economy and the Rebirth of American Slavery” Twitter Handle@rothmanistan


Joshua Rothman directs the Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama, where he is also a professor of history specializing in nineteenth-century America and the history of race and slavery. He is the author of Notorious in the Neighborhood: Sex and Families across the Color Line in Virginia, 1787–1861 (2003); Reforming America, 1815–1860 (2009); and Flush Times and Fever Dreams: A Story of Capitalism and Slavery in the Age of Jackson (2012), which won the Gulf South Historical Association’s Michael Thomason Book Award and the Southern Historical Association’s Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Prize. He is currently researching a book tentatively entitled “The Ledger and the Chain: The Men Who Made America’s Domestic Slave Trade into Big Business.”

schermerhornJ. Calvin Schermerhorn, Arizona State,  Cash for Slaves’: The African American Trail of Tears” Twitter Handle@CalScherm


Dr. J. Calvin Schermerhorn is the Head of History and Associate Professor teaching courses in American, Atlantic, and World/Global history and specializing in slavery, capitalism, and African American family life under slavery.

His recent book by Yale University Press, The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860 follows the money of American slavery to the ends of credit chains financing it, detailing slave traders’ business strategies and the responses of enslaved Americans.

Other books include Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom: Slavery in the Antebellum Upper South (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011) and Henry Goings, Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slavery, co-edited with Mike Plunkett and Edward Gaynor (University of Virginia Press, 2012). 

Projects underway include United States Slavery: A Family History (Cambridge University Press), which uses family history to contextualize changes in North American slavery from the Revolution to Reconstruction. Dr. Schermerhorn is also researching a book-length exploration of slavery’s contested literary narrative during the nineteenth century and another detailing the financial history of the removal of Muscokee Creek Indians in the context of the domestic slave trade.

max-grivnoMax Grivno, University of Southern Mississippi, “Death on the River: Slavery in the Yazoo Mississippi Delta” 


Max Grivno joined the faculty of the University of Southern Mississippi in 2007 after completing his doctorate at the University of Maryland.  While completing his degree, Grivno worked as a historian with both the National Park Service and the Freedmen and Southern Society Project, a documentary-editing project whose work focuses on emancipation and Reconstruction.  In 2008, Grivno’s doctoral dissertation was named a finalist for the Labor and Working Class History Association’s Herbert G. Gutman Dissertation Prize and the winner of both the University of Maryland’s Richard T. Farrell Prize and the Southern Historical Association’s C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Award.  Dr. Grivno’s first book, Gleanings of Freedom: Free Labor and Slavery along the Mason-Dixon Line, 1790-1860, was published in 2011 as part of the University of Illinois Press’s series The Working Class in American History.  Grivno is currently writing From Bondage to Freedom: Slavery in Mississippi, 1690-1865, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi as part of its Heritage of Mississippi Series and is researching a third book, tentatively titled Bandits, Klansmen, Rioters, and Strikers: Violence in the Alabama-Mississippi Black Belt,1830-1917.

During his tenure at Southern Mississippi, Grivno has received numerous research fellowships and grants, including the Reed-Fink Award from the Southern Labor History Archives at Georgia State Unity, a Bell Fellowship from the Forest History Center, the J. Carlyle Sitterson Fellowship from the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, a Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance Fellowship from the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale University, a Lynn E. May Study Grant from the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archive, an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellowship from Virginia Historical Society, and a travel grant from John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African-American History and Culture at Duke University.  In 2010, Grivno received the Faculty Senate/University President Junior Faculty Research Award.  The following year, he received one of the University’s Lucas Awards for Faculty Excellence. Dr. Grivno’s teaching interests include the Old South, slavery, labor history, and Mississippi history.

madeleine taylorModerator: Madeleine C. Taylor, Executive Director, NAACP Memphis


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