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A Symposium: The Shared History of Germans and African Americans in Missouri
February 29 | 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Topic: Contributions of Germans towards the Abolition of Slavery before and during the Civil War and relationships with African Americans then and now.
What: The Symposium features highly regarded historians and scholars who will share this little-known history joined by a sociologist and playwright. There will be music from representatives of the German and African American community as well as an excerpt from the play AN AMAZING STORY: GERMAN ABOLITIONISTS OF MISSOURI.
Cost: Free event; open to the public.
When: Saturday, February 29, 2020, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (A tour of the Deutschheim Historic site is available at 10:00 a.m.)
Where: Hermannhof Festhalle, 237 East 1st Street, Hermann, Missouri
Sponsors: The Missouri Humanities Council and Cross-Cultural Strategies will present this free public forum, in collaboration with Visit Hermann, the Showboat Community Theatre, and the Deutschheim State Historic Site.
For Registration: Visit mohumanities.org or call the Hermann Welcome Center at 1-800-932-8687.
It is relatively unknown that German immigrants took an early stand against slavery in Missouri. As early as 1835, German newspapers in our State spoke out against slavery. In addition, Germans joined the Union in large numbers and helped the Colored Infantry to start Lincoln University. Members of the humanities community including historians, activists, and a playwright will discuss the complex relationship between Germans and African-Americans before and after the Civil War. The symposium will also include musical performances and an excerpt from the play An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri.
An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri is an original play about the role of German immigrants in the fight to end slavery, it’s written by Cecilia Nadal and produced by Gitana Productions. The play touches on the work of real historical figures such as Friedrich Munch, Judge Arnold Krekel and August Boernstein. German immigrants who settled in St. Louis in the mid-1800s tended to be vocal about their advocacy for the end of slavery, Many pledged their allegiance to the Union during the Civil War and became Union soldiers, though, of course, “some immigrants set aside their values in order to survive and be accepted during the period before and after [the war],” as Cecilia Nadal wrote about the play. An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri first toured Missouri in 2019, visiting the Hermann Showboat Community Theatre on July 20th. The production has plans to tour the state, and Hermann, again this year.
The Symposium distinguished panel includes:
Dr. Gary R. Kremer
Executive Director of the State Historical Society of Missouri
Kremer has written, co-authored, and co-edited eight books, including the recently released Women in Missouri History: In Search of Power and Influence, A Dictionary of Missouri Biography (1999), A History of Missouri, 1875-1919 (1997), and Missouri’s Black Heritage (1993).
Dr. John A. Wright
Fulbright Scholar, Historian and Educator
Author of thirteen books including Kinloch: Missouri’s first Black Town, The Ville, St. Louis, Missouri (Black America Series) Dr. Wright has a distinguished career serving as an academic leader within public schools in St. Louis and as a board member of the St. Louis World Trade Center and the St. Louis, Missouri–Senegal Sister Cities Committee.
Dr. Sydney Norton, Associate Professor
Saint Louis University’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Author of the publication German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri and curator for the exhibit by the same name.
Cecilia A, Nadal
Sociologist, Playwright and Consultant
Founder of Gitana Productions, a 22-year arts organization bringing diverse communities together through cross-cultural engagement. President of Cross-Cultural Strategies Inc., a consulting and training firm. Playwright of An Amazing story: German Abolitionists of Missouri.
Symposium attendees are invited to take a special tour of Deutschheim State Historic Site, available from 10 AM to Noon. Visit the home of the Hermanner Wochenblatt, the German language anti-slavery newspaper from 1845. On exhibit at the Deutschheim Visitor Center (101 W. Second Street, Hermann), will be one of only three originals of the signed 1865 Ordinance Abolishing Slavery in Missouri. For lunch enjoy an authentic German meal at several restaurants near the Festhalle. Enjoy a full day of learning, engagement, and fun.
For more events celebrating Black History Month, visit our complete Calendar of Events.