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Telling Stories: History through the Eyes of the Enslaved

The President James K. Polk State Historic Site

A communal dinner, public workshop and a safe place for community conversations around race, history and culture, along with a historical perspective on what led to where we are today, comprise the Slave Dwelling Project Weekend, Sept. 29-30.

The President James K. Polk State Historic Site, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, the Slave Dwelling Project; North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and the North Carolina Humanities Council will offer a series of events centered on historic preservation, interpretation, community and family. A communal dinner, Friday, Sept. 29, 6 p.m., will be held at the Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte. A day of living history, Saturday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. will be at the President Polk Historic Site.

Friday evening will offer an intimate experience to fill the hearts, souls and stomachs at the Gantt Center. Joseph McGill, founder and executive director of the Slave Dwelling Project, is the keynote presenter. For the past three years he has undertaken to identify extant slave dwellings and work for their preservation. During the evening’s “Soul Stories: A Family Dinner” program he will encourage participants to think differently about the preservation and interpretation of slave dwellings. He also will relate his experiences interpreting slavery at presidential sites and museums.

Following the keynote address, guests can enjoy good food and intimate discussions of topics that may include race, U.S. slavery, family ties, home and southern culture. Tickets for the Friday dinner are $40 and available at  Doors open at 5:30, dinner is 6-8 p.m. at the Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, 551 S. Tryon St., Charlotte.

For a complete immersion, visitors are invited to “The Stories We Tell: Cabin Sleepover Experience” at President James K. Polk Historic Site in Pineville, starting at 9 p.m. Purchase of tickets to “Soul Stories” is required to be entered in a lottery for selection to participate in the sleepover. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 8.       

A living history village will be created at President Polk site for Saturday’s “Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved” program. Families are invited to encounter costumed interpreters who will tell stories, present lectures and demonstrate skills related to the lives of the enslaved, including cooking, quilting, brickmaking and blacksmithing. The free program Saturday will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

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