Black Women poets respond to the brown family archive

Black Women Poets Respond
to the Brown Family Archive

With Deborah Hall, Kimberly Toney, Ashley Wonder, Catherine Reed, and Xaulanda Thorpe

Thursday November 17, 2022, at 7pm ET

Cosponsored by the Worcester Black History Project

Approx. 1 hour

View program

Join us as Worcester poets share their responses inspired by material from the Brown Family Collections, one of the earliest and largest intact nineteenth-century Black family’s libraries in America. The collections center around William and Martha Ann Brown, who were married in Worcester in 1850, and their son, Charles F. Brown. William Brown’s ancestors, the Moore family, and their descendants, the Goldsberry family, created and maintained an archive over several generations and have entrusted it to the American Antiquarian Society to be made available to aid the work of researchers, community members, artists, and poets for generations to come.

During this hybrid event, poets Ashley Wonder, Catherine Reed, and Xaulanda Thorpe will discuss their experience working with AAS archive material and items in the Brown Family Collections from which they drew inspiration. Both in-person and virtual attendees of this program will have the opportunity to view items used by the poets in addition to other material included in the collections such as books, family papers and correspondence, portraits, and photographs.

Headshot of Deborah HallDeborah Hall is CEO of YWCA Central MA. She is also the founder of Worcester Black History Project and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Worcester Cultural Plan. Hall has over 30 years of experience working with survivors of domestic violence and addressing the intersection of race, gender, and community violence. She is a social justice advocate, an art lover, and has served in leadership positions for several programs throughout MA, RI, and MO addressing issues of homelessness, violence, and substance abuse.


Headshot of Ashely WonderKimberly Toney is the Coordinating Curator for Native American and Indigenous Collections at Brown University Library. During her tenure at AAS as Head of Readers' Services and Director of Indigenous Initiatives, Kimberly worked with the Brown Family Collection. She created a video for the Worcester Black History Project on William Brown and authored an article for Past Is Present on Martha Ann Brown.


Headshot of Ashely Wonder Ashely Wonder has been writing and performing Spoken Word for over a decade with dynamic passion all over Massachusetts. She teaches workshops to various age groups hoping to inspire audiences around her to know that healing and liberation is possible.


Headshot of Catherine ReedRev. Dr. Catherine H. Reed is the author of four books of poetry. Crossing Boundaries, Between Midnight and Dawn, Sankofa, and Fire Goes Out Without Wood. She was the former Associate Pastor of John Street Baptist Church and a retired Chaplain of The College of The Holy Cross.


Headshot of Xaulanda ThorpeXaulanda Thorpe is a spoken word poet from Worcester, Massachusetts. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in biological anthropology in January 2020. During her time at BU, when she was not examining primate samples, she wrote short stories for Charcoal Magazine, a student-led publication. In 2021, Xaulanda’s poem was chosen for the African Burial Ground National Monument’s Still I Rise tribute to Maya Angelou.

Worcester Black History Project

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