[PAST EVENT] Lawrence Jackson Book Lecture

January 29, 2013
5pm - 6pm
Blow Memorial Hall, Room 201
262 Richmond Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Dr. Jackson, Prof. of English and African-American Studies at Emory University will talk about his new book, My Father's Name.

The book is a family biography that explores the life terrain of two of his paternal ancestors born in slavery: a man named Edward Jackson and his father-in-law Granville Hundley. These African Americans lived in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, sharing a neighborhood called Ringgold & Laurel Grove with white men who made Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. Bordering North Carolina and between the Staunton and Dan rivers, Pittsylvania County was prime tobacco-land throughout the 19th century. My Father's Name meshes chapters of historical research on slavery and postbellum life in Pittsylvania with detailed vignettes of his personal journey back to the 40 acres of land my ancestor bought in the year Federal troops abandoned the South. The book pays homage to people who lived in a land of slaves and slaveowners, categories of humanity that held sway many years after bondage had passed.

My Father's Name arcs narratively from the rough historical reconstruction of Edward Jackson's life, gleaned from library records, to an increasingly precise account of ritual events in his family members' lives, a degree of scrutiny produced by several memorable visits to the Pittsylvania County courthouse. His recovery of the forgotten lives of my enslaved ancestors is rife with a cruel irony. To engage the past Jackson has to explore the tainted ledgers of history, records of the theft and the erasure of black people.

Of course, the book is also a march back into time. Building to dramatic concluding moments in the archives of Richmond and Charlottesville, My Father's Name mulls over the heavy emotional cost of reclaiming and honoring black Americans who survived slavery.

The only intimate report of a Southside Virginia neighborhood in slavery and freedom of its kind, the book is ultimately a reflection on the putrid wound that began in slavery and haunts us today.

[[ahchar, Prof. Anne Charity-Hudley]]