Public Program - Jessie Morgan-Owens

Lectures and Performances
Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 7:00pm to Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 6:45pm

“Girl in Black and White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams and the Abolition Movement”
by Jessie Morgan-Owens

When a decades-long court battle resulted in her family's freedom in 1855, seven-year-old Mary Mildred Williams unexpectedly became the face of American slavery. During a sold-out abolitionist lecture series, Senator Charles Sumner paraded Mary in front of rapt audiences as evidence that slavery knew no bounds.

In this talk based on her new book, Girl in Black and White, Jessie Morgan-Owens will weave together long-overlooked primary sources and arresting images—including a crystallotype discovered in the collections at AAS of the image that turned Mary into the poster child of a movement—and will investigate tangled generations of sexual enslavement and the fraught politics that led Mary to Sumner. She restores Mary’s story to history and uncovers a dramatic narrative of travels along the Underground Railroad, relationships tested by oppression, and the struggles of life after emancipation.

Morgan-Owens is currently the dean of studies and director of curriculum at Bard Early College in New Orleans, an initiative to increase access to college and the liberal arts by offering tuition-free, immersive college experiences for public high school students. In addition to her academic work in photography, Jessie shoots professionally with the award-winning team Morgan & Owens. She is originally from Monroe, Louisiana.

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