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Civil War history comes to The Prizery / April 11, 2019

The Prizery will present a program in its One Community Initiative series on Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m.: Race, Diamonds, and Education: The Silas Omohundro Family of Richmond, presented by Emmanuel Dabney, Park Curator at Petersburg National Battlefield in Petersburg. This presentation is free and open to the public.

Dabney is an expert on the fascinating lives of Silas Omohundro, a white slave trader in antebellum and Civil War Richmond and his enslaved wife, Corinna, and their family from 1850-1877. The Omohundros were a wealthy and elite slaveowning-enslaved family, in which one member is the slaveowner and the other members are enslaved. Ironically, despite their status as slaves, Corinna, her mother, and the Omohundro children joined Silas to benefit from slavery in order to create and maintain their identity, and making the entire family slave dependent. Silas died before the Civil War and slavery ended, and though Corinna and her children entered the postwar era with property and education; they still lived in a liminal zone between white and black.

Dabney notes that the Omohundro family “challenges our understanding of who benefitted from Richmond’s slave trade while tens of thousands suffered, reveals the complexity of biracial people even as they embraced elite, white Southern social customs, and the means in which these elements combined to create unique experiences for nearly-white African Americans who reshaped themselves through the separate, yet connected worlds of love, a slave jail and the domestic sphere.”

Dabney is a native of Virginia, and he holds a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation from Mary Washington University and master’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has given many programs on the issues facing African Americans in antebellum, wartime and immediate postwar America as well as how to portray these experiences within professional museum settings. He believes his love of history is embedded in his DNA; having on his maternal grandfather’s line, ancestors who were slaveholders and free blacks; on his maternal grandmother’s line there are enslaved people and non-slaveholding whites; and on his paternal line more enslaved people.

The purpose of The Prizery’s One Community Initiative is to build awareness and bridges of connection across the community through experiences with arts and humanities.

Funding from Virginia Humanities for The Prizery’s One Community Initiative is helping to support the program.

Virginia Humanities connects people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. As the state humanities council, Virginia Humanities reaches millions in its estimated annual audience through festivals, grants, fellowships, digital initiatives, teacher institutes, radio programs, podcasts, apprenticeships, and school programs. Headquartered at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia Humanities works to serve Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth.

This free program is open to the public and all ages. For additional information, contact The Prizery at 434.572.8339.

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Junk like this makes me sick. 21st century men trying to say what a man was thinking in the 19th century. I am so sick of the socialist trying to destroy our southern history all because they say this is what it was like. No one really knows what it was like. For every negative slave story, there are positive ones.

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