Exhibits & Lecture Series

Exhibits and Lecture Series

Poplar Grove announced its inaugural permanent exhibit in 2014 due in part to a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council. Poplar Grove Foundation, Inc. installed a long overdue permanent exhibit on African American history in Southeastern North Carolina that opened on Thursday, June 19, 2014, that was accompanied by a three-part lecture series.  Because the series provided a context for slavery and tenant farming at Poplar Grove, we have included the titles and subjects below:

The first in our lecture series, The Rosenwald School Movement, with Dr. Glen Harris and Claudia Stack, on April 24, was an engaging discussion of the influences of Booker T. Washington’s industrial education philosophy and the Rosenwald School Movement. According to the NC State Historic Preservation Office, Pender County has the largest number of remaining African American schoolhouses.  Discover why these last standing structures are worthy of saving and how you can help by visiting Claudia Stack’s website: Under the Kudzu.

The second in our lecture series, West African Culture in the Atlantic World, on May 24 was a packed house. Dr. Nana Amponsah, who spoke upon the subject of “Culture, Conception and History in the African Diaspora,” provided a complex and provocative commentary on the practice and tradition of slavery among the various African kingdoms during the 16th century and how the advancing navigational skills of the Portuguese initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, specifically from the Canary Islands to Bahia, Brazil.

The third & last in our lecture series, African American Dance: Expression, Affirmation, Resistance, Survival, on June 5 with Dr. Thomas DeFrantz highlighted the three defining themes of African American dance, as 1) spiritual; 2) social (buck, wing, and jig); and 3) theatrical. Dr. DeFrantz is Professor of African and African American Studies, Dance, and Theater Studies at Duke University, and President of the Society of Dance History Scholars. The theatrical elements of African American dance upon American pop culture grew out of the two great southern migrations (Chicago & NYC) and  in places such as Harlem’s Apollo Theater and the Savoy Ballroom integrating Ragtime, Jazz, and Swing, best reflected in the Lindy Hop.

“From Civil War to Civil Rights:  The African American Experience at Poplar Grove”

From Civil War to Civil Rights Trailer from Poplar Grove on Vimeo.

This exhibit will chronicle the contributions of African Americans at the Poplar Grove site and in the Scotts Hill community from slavery to freedom. In an effort to tell the stories of those silenced by history, “From Civil War to Civil Rights” seeks to engage visitors in a dialogue about the Southern economy, race relations, and civil rights from emancipation to the mid-twentieth century. Please join us this year for events and lectures leading up to the Juneteenth unveiling of our new exhibit space!

Spring 2014 Lectures and  Exhibits:

  • Lecture on the Rosenwald School Movement and African American Education in the South with Dr. Glen Harris (UNC-Wilmington) and Claudia Stack (Under the Kudzu)  on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 6:30 pm
  • Lecture on West African Culture in the Atlantic World with Dr. Nana Amponsah (UNC-Wilmington) on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm
  • Lecture and Performance on African American Social Dance with Dr. Tommy DeFrantz (Duke University) on Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm
  • Exhibit Unveiling, Juneteenth Celebration, and Reception on Thursday, June 19th at 6:30 pm

Fall 2014 Lectures and Exhibits:

Thursday at 6:30 PM, August 28, in the plantation manor house at Poplar Grove, 10200 US Hwy 17N, Wilmington, and on Thursday, September 4, at 6:30 PM  inside the Bellamy Mansion Museum at 503 Market St., Wilmington, NC.

  • Seeking Freedoms: Rural and Urban Slave Life in Southeastern North Carolina.  Poplar Grove Plantation and the Bellamy Mansion Museum present a dual lecture with UNCW’s history professors, Dr. Chris Fonvielle and Dr. John Haley, who will discuss the enslaved African American experience before the Civil War in the contexts of plantation life and city life. Freedom of movement, domestic vs. field life, levels of autonomy, and the intersection of town and country are just some of the themes open for debate. Audience participation in the discussion is encouraged. Site tours on both evening.

Spring 2014 – Present:

Since the summer of 2014, Executive Director, Caroline C. Lewis, has continued researching and documenting the lives and roles of the slaves at Poplar Grove and the many tenant farming families who lived and worked on site from 1870-1960 and publishing new information on our website pages specifically devoted to the Foy Family Household, Slavery and Emancipation, the Gullah Geechee Corridor, Tenant Farming, and Peanuts.

The latest to complement the Civil War to Civil Rights exhibit is an upcoming audio interview of Nora Foy Brown discussing her recollections of playing as a little girl at Poplar Grove during the 1920s while her mother cooked and managed the household for Robert Lee Foy, Sr. and his wife and four children as well as his aging adoptive parents, Joseph Thompson Foy and Nora Dozier Foy (Aunt Nora). The audio recording will be available September 1, 2017, along with a copy of the transcription for visitors to review.

This rich oral interview contains the names of several tenant families, whose family trees have been researched by Kimberly Sherman and further defined by our Executive Director. The family trees of the tenant families are currently being uploaded as the trees relate specifically to former slaves.

Stay tuned for more information or call us at (910) 686-9518.

This project is made possible in part by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide non-profit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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