Joanne Pope Melish, a nationally-recognized authority on gradual emancipation in New England, will begin the Little Compton Historical Society’s Slavery and Freedom Speakers’ Series on Tuesday, July 19 at 7 PM at the United Congregational Church on the Commons. Dr. Melish has entitled her talk The Worm in the Apple: Slavery, Emancipation, and Race in Rhode Island. She will discuss, among other topics, the amnesia that New England developed concerning its history of slave-holding and the emergence of racism as a means of control once slavery ended in the North.
Dr. Melish is well-known as the author of “Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860” (Cornell University Press) a book that has been frequently used and discussed in university classrooms across the country since its publication in 1998. Dr. Melish is Associate Professor of History Emerita at the University of Kentucky, where she also directed the American Studies Program for several years. Dr. Melish received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University and now resides in Rhode Island. In addition to Disowning Slavery, she has authored many essays on race and slavery in the early republic and on slavery in public history. Currently she is working on a book-length project tentatively entitled “Gradual Alienation: How a Multiracial Laboring Class Formed, Persisted, and Became Invisible in the Post-Revolutionary North.”
The Historical Society’s Slavery and Freedom Speakers’ Series is generously sponsored by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. The talks are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.