Amy Folk, far right, curated the Southold Historical Society exhibit about enslaved people at the former home of Samuel Landon. Here, she’s seen outside the home with Deanna Witte-Walker, executive director of the historical society, left, and Stony Brook graduate Felicia LaLomia.
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona
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Southold Historical Society is pleased to announce their participation in the Newsday segment entitled Illuminating history: Students’ research lifts up stories of African Americans on LI.
Executive Director Deanna Witte-Walker, Collections Manager Amy Folk and Board Secretary Lee Cleary were interviewed to discuss how Southold Historical Society is working to include more diverse histories of the people of Southold Town.
Executive Director Deanna Witte-Walker, states “This was a story that needed to be told. Sometimes topics like slavery can be uncomfortable; it can be difficult to talk about. I really applaud the historical society for realizing how important it was not to let that story go untold.”
To read the article and watch the video of the one to one interview with Deanna Witte-Walker, click the button below.
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The following is an excerpt from the article.
“I wanted to give acknowledgment to the existence of all the people who lived in that house,” said Amy Folk, Southold town historian and the exhibit’s curator. “They [enslaved people] are a mostly unspoken part of the history, but they are very much part of the history of this town…The exhibit, she noted, is the first step. Another part of the learning process for Folk involved vocabulary, she said, explaining that the exhibit refers to “slaves” though the term “enslaved people” is becoming more widely used.
Lynda Day, an Africana studies professor at Brooklyn College, said exhibits like this are rare.
“Telling the story of the enslaved people of the house is pretty revolutionary in the telling of history,” she said. “History is usually the story of the elites of any society. So focusing on the lower-status people of any place indeed turns the story on its head and makes the invisible visible.”
Deanna Witte-Walker, the historical society’s executive director, said the exhibit is its push to include more diverse histories (of) Southold’s people.
“The question of how to be more inclusive has been an important one for our museum,” she said. “The exhibit’s committee felt that it was our duty to explore the fact that Samuel Landon was a slave-owner. Enslavement in Southold Town is not a new concept. But we had never explored it ourselves.”
Credit: Newsday 2020,Illuminating history: Students’ research lifts up stories of African Americans on LI, 14 September, 2020 <https://www.newsday.com/long-island/illuminating-history-students-lift-up-stories-of-african-americans-on-li-1.49129184>
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