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Appalachian State University’s Forum Lecture Series Presents Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed on Oct. 24th

BOONE, NC Appalachian State University’s University Forum Lecture Series presents Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed on Monday, Oct. 24 at 7pm in the Plemmons Student Union, Parkway Ballroom (4th Floor). The event is free and open to the public; no reservations. The Forum Lecture Series, co-sponsored this season by The Schaefer Center Presents series, has a long history of bringing in accomplished scholars to provide stimulating conversations. Gordon-Reed will deliver a personal talk based on her best-selling and critically acclaimed memoir, On Juneteenth, which weaves together her own family’s chronicle—she is a descendent of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s—alongside the wider context of American history and the country’s long road to Juneteenth. The author will hold a book signing immediately follow the event.

Annette Gordon-Reed, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize for History and MacArthur Genius, is one of the integral voices who helped Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery, officially enter our national conversation. Her book about this profound day—On Juneteenth—is a powerful, essential work of history that weaves together America’s past with personal memoir; it was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington PostTIME, and NPR. The New York Times said Annette is “one of the most important American historians of our time: she is revealing an incredibly important historical story that no one has told but that everyone needs to learn.”

“This year’s University Forum Speaker ties in nicely with this year’s Common Reading selection — Junaluska: Oral Histories of a Black Appalachian Community by Susan Keefe,” says Dr. Beth Davison, Professor in the Dept of Interdisciplinary Studies at App State. “Both Dr. Gordon-Reed and Dr. Keefe’s books are elevating voices that have been traditionally left out of mainstream history. Dr. Gordon-Reed knows firsthand the challenge of doing historical work for marginalized populations whose history has gone unrecorded or been lost.”

About Annette Gordon-Reed
Annette Gordon-Reed is a Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard Law School, and the award-winning author of six books. Her latest book, On Juneteenth, sets out to capture the integral importance of the holiday to American history. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller, was featured on the magazine’s 100 Notable Books list, and chosen as one of its the top five non-fiction books of the year. When President Joe Biden finally signed into law a bill that established Juneteenth as a federal holiday—the culmination of a decades-long effort—Gordon-Reed was among those invited to witness the historic moment. “I think it will be good for the country to have a day to reflect on slavery and the end of slavery,” Gordon-Reed said.

In her earlier piece “Growing Up with Juneteenth,” written for The New Yorker, Gordon-Reed recounts how the Texas holiday became a national tradition: “When I was a little girl, in Texas, I thought Juneteenth belonged to us, meaning to the state of Texas generally and to Black Texans specifically,” she starts, before going on to recount the disconnect between “freedom” in legal terms versus lived reality, the unfulfilled promise of the Declaration for Black Americans, and the horrors they have had to endure even after the Emancipation Proclamation. Impassioned, moving, and articulate, On Juneteenth is an even deeper, more personal recollection—a captivating blend of memoir and history that explores the violence and oppression that preceded and followed this celebration, what it means to us now, and how it relates to our larger fight for equality.

Gordon-Reed is also the author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award for nonfiction—along with 14 other awards. It explores the inconsistencies of Jefferson’s stance on slavery and his relationship with enslaved woman Sally Hemings, and has been called “the best study of a slave family ever written” by noted Jefferson scholar Joseph Ellis. Her other books include Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy—a rich examination of scholarly writing on the relationships between Jefferson and Hemings, which exposes the possibility that scholars were misguided by their own biases and may even have contorted evidence to preserve their preexisting opinions of Jefferson—and Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination, a provocative character study of Jefferson that challenges much of the scholarly status quo on his portrayal throughout history.

Gordon-Reed’s honors include the National Humanities Medal (awarded by President Barack Obama), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

Event Details
Free and open to the public, no reservations needed. Monday, Oct. 24 at 7pm in the Plemmons Student Union, Parkway Ballroom (4th Floor), Appalachian State University, Boone. The author will hold a book signing immediately follow the event.

About University Forum Lecture Series
The Lecture Series is one of the longest-running series at App State and provides opportunities for university students, faculty and staff, and for people in the surrounding region, to hear some of the country’s most stimulating speakers.

About The Schaefer Center Presents Series

The Schaefer Center Presents… is a performing arts series offering campus and community audiences a diverse array of music, dance and theatre programming designed to enrich the cultural landscape of the Appalachian State University campus and surrounding area. By creating memorable performance experiences and related educational and outreach activities, the series promotes the power and excitement of the live performance experience; provides a “window on the world” through the artistry of nationally and internationally renowned artists; and showcases some of the finest artists of our nation and our region.