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News Feb 22, 2012 - 5:04 AM

Slaves in the Attic panel discussion at Greenwich Historical Society

By Greenwich Historical Society

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Joseph McGill, Jr., is a Civil War reenactor with the 54th Massachusetts, Co.I, Civil War Reenactment Regiment, Charleston, SC, in addition to his work as a field officer at the Charleston Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where he established the Slave Dwelling Project.
Cos Cob, CT - On Friday, March 30, Joseph McGill, Jr., will spend the night in the dark, cramped attic slave quarters at Bush-Holley House, a National Historic Landmark in Greenwich, CT. McGill, a descendant of slaves, is no stranger to the heat, sweat and backbreaking work that African slaves who were brought to this country bore on a daily basis. As a young man, he himself toiled in tobacco fields. Now, as a field officer at the Charleston Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mr. McGill has established the Slave Dwelling Project and has made it a personal mission to preserve humble shelters that serve as a reminder of what life was like for the slaves who worked plantations, more modest farms and businesses in both the North and South.

In connection with the Slave Dwelling Project, Mr. McGill has thus far spent the night in 28 documented slave quarters. Bush-Holley House, home of the Greenwich Historical Society and one of the few historic homes in New England to address its connection with slavery, will be Mr. McGill's second stay in the North. Says McGill, "My experiences have all been different, but I've come to understand that despite their lack of all but the most rudimentary amenities, these dwellings were the one place where slaves could experience some serenity in their lives."

Prior to his overnight stay, Mr. McGill, along with Coming to the Table, an organization that addresses the legacy of slavery in America, will conduct a panel discussion at the Historical Society. The roster of distinguished experts who will participate includes Dr. Allegra di Bonaventura, assistant dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Yale University; Dionne Ford, writer, Coming to the Table member and; Grant Hayter-Menzies, biographer, historian and Coming to the Table member; Rev. David Pettee, Coming to the Table member; John Pfeiffer, adjunct professor, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts and Old Lyme town historian; and Dale Plummer, Norwich city historian and chair of the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee.

Share this fascinating, personal journey and gain a greater understanding of the little-explored topic of slavery in Connecticut and its direct connection with Greenwich history.

Friday, March 30, 7:00-8:30 pm
Vanderbilt Education Center, Greenwich Historical Society
39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob, CT

Visit to reserve online or call 203-869-6899, Ext. 10.

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