Hempsted Houses Host Juneteenth Celebration Featuring Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project

Hartford, CT – From Friday, June 7th through Sunday, June 9th, we welcome you to celebrate New London’s 5th annual Juneteenth Celebration! The Hempsted Houses host this great event in partnership with the NAACP – New London Branch, and our neighbor the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC).

The weekend begins Friday, June 7th at 7 pm with a campfire discussion with the founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, Joseph McGill. This is a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about his work around the country to preserve slave dwellings and the history within them. The conversation flows in a powerful way whenever McGill visits historic sites. Last year’s discussion focused on the legacies of slavery in society, how citizens are taught about this difficult history, and how we as a nation remember it. As the fire grows dimmer, a select group of visitors will join McGill to continue the conversation as they prepare to spend the night in the Hempsted Houses.

On Saturday, June 8th, the official celebration will kick-off at noon with drumming and music by Dwight Baldwin, aka The Professor, and his band, Shades of Joy; and New London’s DJ Frank Lo. In addition to the excellent music selection, we will be featuring local dancers, including the Tiger Eye Dance Team at 12:30pm. At 2 pm, McGill will speak about how he locates and preserves slave dwellings, and be joined by others sharing their research on stories of slavery. The day will include tours of the Hempsted Houses, tabling by local non-profit groups, activities for families, and a community art project hosted by Expressiones. The OIC will offer great food vendors from their culinary arts program. Saturday’s festivities will be sponsored by CT Humanities, and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

On our final day, Sunday, June 9th, gather under the tent on the Hempsted lawn for Church Service with In His Presence Ministries from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Beginning at 1 pm, we will have a Gospel Choir Concert, and a performance by Tammy Denease portraying Joan Jackson, a woman who fought against the system of slavery in colonial New London. Food vendors will be located at OIC. There will be so much going on – please join us!

 

Admission to the Hempsted Houses and Juneteenth is FREE all three days. The Hempsted Houses are located at 11 Hempstead Street, New London, CT. The site is open for tours May through October. For hours and more information, visit www.ctlandmarks.org; email hempsted@ctlandmarks.org; or call (860) 443-7949.

 

About the Slave Dwelling Project

The Slave Dwelling Project is a non-profit organization based in South Carolina founded by McGill to preserve extant slave dwellings throughout the country. To focus attention on these important, often unnoticed and neglected structures, McGill spends a night sleeping in them. He began by sleeping in the cabins in which enslaved people lived at Magnolia Plantation and Garden in South Carolina in 2010 to draw attention to a restoration project focused on these cabins. Since that first successful sleepover, McGill, an avid Civil War reenactor and descendant of enslaved people, has slept in ninety sites in 18 states.

In a 2014 interview with Smithsonian Magazine, McGill noted that sleeping in former slave dwellings: 

“’seems strange and upsetting to some people.’ But he embraces the discomfort, both physical and psychological, because he wants to save slave dwellings and the history they hold before it’s too late. ‘Americans tend to focus on the ‘big house,’ the mansion and gardens, and neglect the buildings out back,’ he says. ‘If we lose slave dwellings, it’s that much easier to forget the slaves themselves.’”

About The Hempsted Houses

The 1678 Joshua Hempsted House is the oldest house in New London and is one of New England’s best-documented dwellings. Adjacent to the Joshua Hempsted House is a rare stone house built in 1759 by Nathaniel Hempsted. Both structures survived the 1781 burning of New London and stand today as testaments of 17th and 18th-century daily life.

 

About Connecticut Landmarks

Founded in 1936, Connecticut Landmarks is the largest state-wide heritage museum organization in Connecticut. The historic, landmark properties span four centuries of Connecticut history and include: the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden, Bethlehem; the Butler-McCook House & Garden and Main Street History Center, Hartford; the Buttolph-Williams House, Wethersfield; the Hempsted Houses, New London; the Isham-Terry House, Hartford; the Nathan Hale Homestead, Coventry; the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden, Suffield. Connecticut Landmarks’ mission is to inspire interest and encourage learning about the American past by preserving selected historic properties, collections and stories and presenting programs that meaningfully engage the public and our communities. For more information, please visit www.ctlandmarks.org.

The post Hempsted Houses Host Juneteenth Celebration Featuring Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project appeared first on Windham Region Chamber of Commerce.

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