Week 1 Schedule
To facilitate discussion, we will ask participants to read assigned primary and secondary texts in advance. Except for Sunday, each day of the workshop will focus on addressing an overall question (s) and how to use the readings and landmarks visited to address those questions. While we will organize formal tours of every site we visit, we will allow time for self-exploration, especially at Pebble Hill, Thomasville History Center and the Jack Hadley Black History Museum. One of the enduring legacies of the workshop will be given you and the wider community access to a range of primary sources from the Thomasville History Center and other institutions in Thomasville. One of the themes that will run through the week-long workshop is how much we still need to learn about the struggle of African Americans to gain the full measure of freedom. For instance, men such as Henry O. Flipper saw military service as a profession that offered the opportunity only to meet prejudice and discrimination.
Landmark: Thomasville History Center
In the late afternoon the Institute Co-Directors Greg Mixon and G. Kurt Piehler will be joined by Anne McCudden, Director of the Thomasville History Center who will offer a short orientation for all participants in the workshop and provide time for them to visit the museum and the historic buildings of the Thomasville History Center. To foster collegiality among participants we will organize an informal barbecue dinner. If weather permits, we will offer a walking tour back to the Marriott and point out key landmarks on Dawson Street.
The Ambiguity of Freedom: Reconstruction, Redemption, Populism, and Disfranchisement in a Progressive Era
Thematic Question: What institutions did African Americans create to sustain their community after emancipation?
Main Landmark: Thomasville History Center
- K. Love, Emancipation Oration! (1891)
- Gregory Mixon, Show Thyself a Man: Georgia State Troops, Colored, 1865-1905 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2016)
- Documents on African American political activism, 1865-1914 on the workshop’s website (to be added by April 1).
- David Kyvig, Myron A. Marty, and Larry Cebula, Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You, 4th edition. (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), Chapters 6 & 7.
- To underscore the activism of the African American leaders in the late 1800s, we will read an emancipation oration of E. K. Love who served as pastor of the First African Methodist Baptist Church in Thomasville. Love only served briefly in Thomasville before moving to a prestigious pulpit in Savannah. Gregory Mixon’s Show Thyself a Man: Georgia State Troops, Colored, 1865-1905 (2016) will underscore the effort of African American males to assert their masculinity and defend their rights as citizens in the years following the Civil War by forming and participating in volunteer military units. Chapters in Nearby History will provide an overview on how to locate and interpret photographs and artifacts.
In the morning session Gregory Mixon and Kurt Piehler will offer a broad overview of the African American history of Thomasville and how it relates to the wider community. The Thomasville History Center, family home of a prominent white family connected with the Flowers Baking Company, became the headquarters for the Thomas County History Society in 1969. The introductory session will encourage you to think about how you might incorporate what learn into the classroom. Kurt Piehler and Rhonda Grim, the K-12 Education Specialist, will have everyone view several material objects and images on exhibit and discuss strategies for interpreting and using them in the classroom. We also will ask everyone as they go through the museum to choose objects and images on display that should be added to the History Center’s Website when they return home.
In the afternoon Gregory Mixon will examine the African American community in Thomasville and how it intersects with broader trends in U.S. history, focusing on the themes of Reconstruction, Redemption, Populism, and Disfranchisement during the Progressive Era. Dr. Mixon will examine African American efforts to secure and protect the hard-won gains made during Reconstruction. He will consider how African American churches, fraternal organizations, and activist groups such as the NAACP (a branch in Thomasville formed in 1919) challenged discriminatory laws and disenfranchisement. Dr. Mixon will trace civil rights activism through the early 1950s.
The morning and early afternoon sessions will give attendees a broad understanding of the key events and themes of the workshop. The day will conclude with Dr. Mixon taking part in a question-and-answer session to discuss his scholarship focusing on the African American militia in Georgia. Discussion of Dr. Mixon’s book will introduce an important theme that will run through the week: the relationship of military service and the African American community.
Tenant Farming, Sharecropping, and Hunting Plantations
Thematic Question: How did most African Americans make a living in the aftermath of the Civil War?
Main Landmark: Tall Timbers Research Station (Jones Family Tenant Farm), Leon County, Florida and jack Hadley Black History Museum
- Julia Brock, “A ‘Sporting Fraternity’: Northern Hunters and the Transformation of Southern Game Laws in the Red Hill Regions, 1880-1920,” and Robin Bauer Kilgo, “Life and Labor on the Southern Sporting Plantation: African American Tenants at Tall Timbers Plantations, 1920-1944” in Julia Brock and Daniel Vivian, editors, Leisure, Plantations, and the Making of a New South: The Sporting Plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry and Red Hills Region, 1900-1940 (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015).
- Henry Ossian Flipper, The Colored Cadet at West Point (1878)
- Le’Trice Donaldson, Duty Beyond the Battlefield: African American Soldiers Fight for Racial Uplift, Citizenship, and Manhood, 1870-1920 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press, 2020).
- Documents related to sharecropping/tenant farming will be available on the workshop’s website (to be added by April 1).
- Kyvig, Nearby History, Chapter 9
- We draw on chapters from Julia Brock’s Leisure, Plantations, and the Making of a New South: The Sporting Plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry and Red Hills Region, 1900-1940 and a series of primary source documents to place Tall Timbers and other hunting plantations into a wider context. We will continue the theme developed by Dr. Mixon regarding African military service with Henry Ossian Flipper, The Colored Cadet at West Point (1878) and Le’Trice Donaldson’s, Duty Beyond the Battlefield: African American Soldiers Fight for Racial Uplift, Citizenship, and Manhood, 1870-1920 (2020).
In the morning we will tour the Jones Family Tenant Farm at Tall Timbers, a forest research station, led by Kevin McGorty, director of the Land Conservancy. After the tour, Julia Brock will give an overview of the sharecropping and the tenant farming system that generally led to grinding poverty. Sharecropping and tenant farmers remained the norm for much of the South after the Civil War. She will discuss her work on the Red Hill hunting plantations that came to characterize the region by the late 1800s, and the impact they had on employment patterns and land use. As part of her presentation, there will be a discussion of how after Reconstruction, vagrancy laws and other legalized means were used to make most African American tenant farmers/sharecroppers subservient to white landowners and keep them perpetually in debt.
In the afternoon, we will take a tour of the Jack Hadley Black History Museum led by its founder Jack Hadley. Mr. Hadley, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force began collecting African American documents and artifacts in response to him wanting to learn more about his heritage while stationed in Germany. His son informed Sergeant Hadley that his high school history class offered little discussion of African American history. In retirement, Mr. Hadley dedicated his life to developing a collection that tells African American history. The museum contains an extensive collection of objects that not only trace the history of the African American community in Thomasville, but nationally and globally.
The museum is an ideal location for Le’Trice Donaldson to offer an overview of the life and times of Henry O. Flipper of Thomasville, who in 1877 was the first African American to graduate from West Point in 1877. After the Civil War, African Americans continued to serve in the U.S. Army albeit in segregated units. Flipper, despite being cashiered from the U. S. Army on fabricated charges in 1882, went on to a distinguished career in business, law, and engineering. Until his death in 1940, Flipper fought unsuccessfully to have his name cleared. The museum contains an exhibit documenting efforts begun in the 1980s that eventually succeeded in gaining Flipper a well-deserved presidential pardon. It also displays the retirement uniform of General Lloyd Austin, Thomasville West Point graduate, current Secretary of Defense, and a distant relative of Flipper.
Lastly, we will tour the Imperial Hotel site, a Green Book hotel that is currently under renovation by the Jack Hadley Black History Museum. Mr. Hadley will give an overview of the need for Green Book hotels for African American travelers since most whites refused to rent to African American travelers until the late 1960s. He will also discuss with attendees the plans for interpreting the Imperial Hotel’s history. Attendees will be encouraged to draw on relevant chapters of Nearby History that discuss what can be learned from physical structures, but also consider the question of why some historic sites are saved, while others are torn down or allowed to decay.
Northern Tourism and Race Relations
Thematic Question(s): How did the influx of Northern tourists change the dynamics of race relations in Thomasville? Did it afford greater opportunities for African Americans?
Main Landmark: Pebble Hill Plantation
- Titus Brown and Jack Hadley, African-American Life on the Southern Hunting Plantation. (Arcadia, 2000).
- Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), Chapter 3, “Sick Yankees in Paradise: Tourism in the Reconstructed South.”
- Documents on African American work and life on hunting plantations will be posted on the workshop’s website (to be added by April 1).
- Documents on African American political activism, 1865-1954 will be posted on the workshop’s website to be added by April 1).
- Documents on the commemoration of Emancipation Day, federal Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Confederate Memorial Day will be posted on the workshop’s website (to be added by April 1).
- Kyvig, Nearby History, Chapter 10
- The readings for this day will center on the impact of the influx of white Northern tourists to Thomasville beginning in the Gilded Age. A key text will be a chapter on Gilded Age tourism to the reconstructed South in Nina Silber’s The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900 (1993). Many northerners in coming to Thomasville and other parts of the South, accepted white southern mores regarding race and embraced white supremacy. But in reading African-American Life on the Southern Hunting Plantation by Titus Brown and Jack Hadley, some who had maintained hunting plantations had not lost sensibility connected with the rise of Republican Party of Lincoln that brought freedom to enslaved African Americans.
In the morning, Jack Hadley will offer a walking tour of Pebble Hill and provide an overview of the role African American workers played in maintaining this hunting plantation. Mr. Hadley will underscore the paternalistic relationship between the last owner of the estate and the African American employees who worked there. Perhaps unique to Pebble Hill, Mr. Hadley will describe the annual Easter tradition of African American employees dressing in their best clothing and being served dinner by white employees of the estate. He will also recount how several members of his own family had their college education paid for by Miss Pansy, the last Pebble Hill owner. Hadley’s tour will be filmed by a professional videographer so it can serve as permanent resource for attendees.
In the afternoon, Dr. Piehler will discuss questions of memory and race in shaping the legacy of the Civil War after 1865. His presentation will give context to many of the memory wars that center on Civil War monuments beginning in earnest in the 1880s. Veterans of the Confederate army started organizing and joining veteran organizations and many communities, including Thomasville, erected Civil War monuments commemorating the Lost Cause. To promote national reconciliation, many white northerners embraced a memory of the war that minimized the legacy of slavery and sought to stress remembering the bravery and sacrifice of combat veterans on both sides of the conflict. Like other southern towns, Thomasville had an active chapter of the United Confederate Veterans. Dr. Piehler will emphasize that African American citizens in Thomasville and nationally kept alive the memory of the Civil War as a battle cry for freedom.
The evening lecture will be a public event for workshop participants and the larger community. We envision that this event, along with the reception that will follow, will help attendees feel more connected with Thomasville and gain an understanding of the community’s ethos. We also want to foster a greater understanding of the community and how it intersects with the broader history of the United States. In publicizing this lecture, we will make a special effort to encourage students aged 11-18 to attend.
Wes Singletary who holds a doctorate in history and is an instructor at Chiles High School in Leon County Florida and at Tallahassee Community College, will speak on the history of baseball in the South with particular attention to African American participation in the nation’s pastime. Excluded from the American and National Leagues, they developed their own baseball teams and leagues.
The Geography of Segregation
Thematic Question(s): How did the Georgia legislature’s enactment of rigid segregation laws cause widespread disenfranchisement of Black male voters over time and how did this impact the African American community? Why did Thomasville manage to develop such a vibrant Black middle class in the first half of the Twentieth century?
Main Landmark(s): Walking Tour of Downtown that includes both the traditional Black and White business districts. Part of the tour will include the Courthouse and nearby Confederate Memorial. [IMAGE]
- Gregory Mixon, The Atlanta Riot: Race, Class, and Violence in a New South City (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005), Chapter 4 “’Sowing Dragon’s Teeth: Watson and Hardwick, and Progressive Reform, 1904-1906,” pp. 53-63; and Chapter 5 “The Seeds of Incendiarism” The Gubernatorial Campaign of 1905-1906,” pp. 64-72 (Chapter 4 is on Thomasville native sons: Thomas W. Hardwick and Thomas E. Watson. Chapter 5 covers Hardwick’s role and Watson’s role).
- Scott McAleer, “Great Indignation: A Study of Racial Violence in Thomas County, Georgia, 1930,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 87: 1 (Spring 2003): 48-87.
- Arthur Raper, The Tragedy of Lynching (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1933), chapter 11, “The Sheriff Keeps Faith with the Mob.”
- Michael Ayers Trotti, “What Counts: Trends in Racial Violence in the Postbellum South,” Journal of American History 100:2 (September 2013): 375-400.
- Documents on lynching and other violence experienced by the African American community in Thomasville; and political activism from 1865-1954 will be posted on the workshop website (to be added by April 1).
- Documents on the religious life in the African American community in Thomasville will be posted on the workshop website (to be added by April 1).
- Kyvig, Nearby History, Chapters 3-6.
- The bulk of the reading for this session will focus on racial violence with an emphasis on lynching. As Scott McAleer’s “Great Indignation: A Study of Racial Violence in Thomas County, Georgia, 1930” Georgia Historical Quarterly 87: 1 (Spring 2003): 48-87 and Arthur Raper’s, The Tragedy of Lynching, Chapter 11, “The Sheriff Keeps Faith with the Mob” (deals with lynching in Thomasville) underscore the fact that Thomasville did not escape the scourge of lynching. But in the same decade this lynching took place, a white prosecutor successfully prosecuted, and a white jury convicted two white rapists of an African American woman and two white murders of an African American man.
- Nancy Tinker, Director of Thomasville Landmarks will offer a walking tour of the downtown and African American Business districts highlighting sites of memory that have been established (plaques marking the site of former businesses) and those that are absent (no memorial for the site of the 1930 lynching). We will visit city hall for a brief presentation by Bonnie Hayes and Sherri Cain of the Office of Downtown and Tourism Development, City of Thomasville. They will discuss the city’s efforts to commemorate the history of the African American businesses and create greater public awareness for the community and visitors. Kurt Piehler will also present his involvement in the oral history project to document this distinctive community.
For lunch, participants will be encouraged to eat at the Plaza Restaurant and Oyster Bar, the oldest restaurant in the State of Georgia. Although ownership has changed several times, this eatery that has been in continuous operation since 1916. During lunch the co-directors will lead a discussion regarding lynching and racial violence from 1865-1954.
In the afternoon we will travel to several African American churches and briefly discuss their history. Several have distinctive histories. The Bethany Congregational Church was led by civil rights leader Andrew Young in the mid-1950s. This church played a pivotal role in sustaining the Allen Normal and Industrial School that operated from 1885-1933. We will tour the First Missionary Baptist Church. Our visiting scholar, Professor Dr. Maxine Jones along with the Church’s Pastor, Rev. Jeremy Rich will discuss the distinctive history of this church that formed shortly after the Civil War breaking away from a white congregation. Dr. Jones will offer a late afternoon session that will discuss the pivotal role of African American churches is sustaining the community underscoring the vital contribution that played in providing educational opportunities.
The Legacy of the world wars in the African American Community
Thematic Question(s): How did World War I and World War II impact the African American community in Thomasville and nationally?
Main Landmark(s): Regional Airport, site of former Finney Army General Hospital, Jack Hadley Black History Museum
- Jennifer E. Brooks, Defining the Peace: World War II Veterans, Race, and the Remaking of Southern Political Tradition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
- Irwin MacIntyre, Colored Soldiers (Macon, GA: J. W. Burke, 1923), excerpts.
- Chad L. Williams, Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2010), Chapters 6-7,
- The American Soldier Project Website, www.americansoldierww2.org
- In World War I, many African Americans heeded W.E.B. Du Bois to “close ranks” in support of the war to make the world safe for democracy, only to face discrimination and segregation in the armed forces. The chapters from Chad Williams, Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in World War II (2010) focus on World War I’s anti-black racial violence and discrimination that returning African American soldiers faced after the Armistice of 1918. Jennifer E. Brooks, Defining the Peace: World War II Veterans, Race, and the Remaking of Southern Political Tradition makes clear many returning veterans coming home to Georgia in 1945 experienced discrimination as those who came home in 1918. Both Williams and Brooks emphasize African American agency and the struggle of veterans to challenge discriminatory laws and seek the right to exercise the right to vote.
- African American enlisted soldiers left behind relatively few letters and diaries. Capturing the voice of African American soldiers is not easy, so we will consider how to use a problematic historical source, W. Irwin MacIntyre, Colored Soldiers (1923). MacIntyre, a white attorney from Thomasville, interviewed African American troops and wrote about their service just after the war ended. Filled with racial stereotypes and harmful content (material that may be graphic or reflect biases or that may conflict with strongly held cultural values, beliefs or restrictions) when quoting from African American informants; it remains one of the few sources about enlisted men from Thomasville in World War I. We will focus on the wealth of material available on the American Soldier Website (Americansoldierwww2.org) that includes writing of a number of African American GIs who served in World War II and who could offer their opinions anonymously.
In structuring the final day of programming, we want you to reflect on what they have learned and also foster dialogue with your peers, workshop co-directors and staff. Through the week-long program the co-directors and educational specialist will make special efforts to meet informally with everyone, but on this day, we will make a special effort by starting the morning program later in the day to allot more time for these interactions to take place. In the morning we will visit the Thomasville Regional Airport where Kurt Piehler will discuss how World War II fundamentally changed the relationship between the South and the rest of the country. Military bases were established in Thomasville and throughout the South leading to an influx of northerners. He will give an overview of African American participation in both World War I and World War II with significant attention to how Thomasville fits a national pattern. In discussing the texts, he will pay particular attention to the problem of sources, especially the value of W. Irwin MacIntrye’s work examining the participation of African American soldiers from Thomasville in World War I.
We end the workshop with a final visit to the Jack Hadley Black History Museum especially to review those items related to the history of the world wars. We will again ask Mr. Hadley to provide an overview of his U.S. Air Force career and those of other family members. After a break, Rhonda Grimm, the K-12 Education Specialist, and the co-directors will lead a session focusing on “pulling it all together” that will encourage you to discuss ways they plan to incorporate what they learned during the workshop into the classroom.
Attendees depart for home.
Application Deadline: March 3, 2023
Acceptance/Regrets: April 3, 2023
Accept/Decline Offer: April 14, 2023
Waitlist Accept/Regrets: April 15, 2023
Session I: July 9-14, 2023
Session II: July 23- July 28, 2023