Black History Month at The Hermitage
Black History Month provides the Hermitage with a special opportunity to examine, explore, and share stories of its enslaved people to a wide audience. “African-American Contributions to Nashville” will serve as this year’s theme of Black History Month programming at The Hermitage. Building upon 2013’s theme of “Emancipation and the Meaning of Freedom,” these four programs will trace the path of The Hermitage’s enslaved community from bondage to full citizenship by looking at the contributions emancipated African-Americans have made in the Nashville metropolitan area. Upon emancipation, members of the Hermitage’s enslaved community went on to become seamstresses, shopkeepers, nurses, midwives, artists, singers, farmers, and businessmen who made an impact on organizations that still serve this city. The activities and programs presented during this month-long celebration are designed to engage, entertain, and educate visitors and the Greater Nashville community.
Four Black History Month programs are offered during the month of February with each being open to the public and free of charge.
February 1: 10:00-2:00 pm. African-American Genealogy Workshop. Cabin by the Spring.
Historic records that clarify African-American genealogical connections are often vague, incomplete, or missing altogether, posing complications and obstacles for researchers. From 10:00 a.m. - noon, genealogy experts will be on hand for personal assistance on research projects. Virginia Watson of the Friends of Tennessee State Library and Archives will be on hand from 10:00 am - noon to guide researchers through their own projects. At noon John Baker, historian and author of The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom, will discuss the journey that led him to find his own ancestors, who were enslaved in Robertson County, Tennessee. You can learn more about Mr. Baker's work and the work of the Friends of TSLA by following these links.
February 8: 10:00-2:00 pm. African-American Contributions to Textile and Fashion. Cabin by the Spring.
Join Danielle Ullrich in a practical, hands-on workshop in the care and maintenance of heirloom textiles. Ms. Ullrich will discuss the types of textiles worn and produced at The Hermitage. The public is invited to bring family heirlooms to discuss their care and preservation with the Hermitage staff. At noon, the Hermitage’s Assistant Curator Ashley Bouknight will present a program on Gracy Bradley, the enslaved seamstress of the Hermitage, and the archaeological evidence of her life and work. Bring your own handiwork and enjoy the community of crafters.
February 15: 10:00 am. African-American Women in pre-Civil War Nashville. Cafe.
Carole Bucy, Davidson County Historian, will engage the audience in a look at the lives and work of women of color in pre-Civil War Nashville.
February 22: 1:00-3:00 pm. Memorial Concert and Service. Hermitage Church.
One of the Hermitage’s most enduring traditions, the public will gather at the historic Hermitage Church for a memorial concert and service celebrating the lives the more than 150 African-Americans held in slavery here. The Hermitage is proudly partnering with the National Museum of African-American Music (NMAAM) to bring The Princely Players, to perform songs and spoken pieces that define the African experience in America. At the conclusion of the concert, a memorial service will be held and the public will be invited to lay flowers inscribed with the names of the deceased at the Enslaved Memorial, located just west of the Church.
The Princely Players, under the direction of Mr. Robert Smith, are comprised of eight vocalists who originally met at Cameron High School in Nashville, where a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, H. German Wilson, gathered students to form a performing troupe in the 1960s. Since then the individual members have gone on to succeed in areas such as medicine, law and education, yet continue to perform as members of The Princely Players. Their performances range from traditional spirituals like "Amazing Grace" and "Swing Low" to classical jazz such as Duke Ellington's "A-Train."The Grand Rapids Press" writes, "The singers' multipart harmonies, call-and-response techniques and beautiful descants transformed the folk repertoire with classical polish."
The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) celebrates the contribution and preserves the legacy of African Americans and the role they have played in defining, shaping and creating American Music. The galleries of the museum will focus on the authentic story of how music has played a critical role in the lives of all people especially through the lens of African Americans. The Museum will contain galleries on sacred music, blues, jazz, popular music, music of struggle & resistance and Hip Hop. For visitors, it will be a highly technological, educational experience for all ages and the Museum will offer educational programs, exhibits, and other opportunities to learn about this unique history.
The Hermitage is grateful for the sponsorship of