Black Power! 19th Century: Newark’s Black Abolitionists Discovery Grant Proposal

This proposal submitted to the NEH Public Program for a Digital Project for the Public Discovery Grant requests $30,000 support to develop a website for the 2021 exhibition and walking tour Black Power! 19th Century: Newark’s Black Abolitionists.

Support will contribute to implementing the expertise of humanities scholars, digital humanities specialists, and web designers for conducting meetings, hosting a public feedback session with students and receiving consultation on developing an online portal for the project Black Power! 19th Century: Newark’s Black AbolitionistsThis multimedia project illuminates seven landmark events and themes in the Newark’s multiracial abolitionist community and the written expressive culture of Black abolitionists including an essay, poem, petition and community group statement.

Newark’s abolitionist community was composed of national figures like the editor of the first national African American newspaper and Charles Beecher, radical antislavery activist, and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Newark’s African American community and white abolitionist community also hosted national figures like Frederick Douglass. Specifically, it examines cultural resistance to segregation, examines the institutions they built and the written expressive culture around the Fugitive Slave Act and Law, and African Colonization.

The discovery funding will support convening a diverse group of scholars to 1) Identify the digital platform that would be best for this project; 2) Reviewing best examples of conveying radical spacial histories; 3) Identifying prototype humanities and digital team members.

This digital resource will serve as a:

1)         Virtual museum and archive

2)         Educational Tool

3)         Public Engagement Opportunity

It will also:

4)         Contribute to new scholarship that centralizes African American abolition and suffrage activism as central to the emancipation of the enslaved;

5)         Destabilize the paradigm that the South was the sole supporter of slavery. Widen the breadth on scholarship on how “the North” (Mid-Atlantic states) utilizing Newark, NJ as a model that served simultaneously as a site that powerfully cultivated and greatly hindered Black liberation work around abolition, antislavery and suffrage work;

6)         Present a new framework of northeastern corridor activist migration and community building in the face of violence to the national discourse on African American abolitionist and suffrage historiography.

About Noelle Lorraine Williams

Noelle Lorraine Williams is an artist whose life's work exemplifies her continued interest in engaging people in conversations using art, history and contemporary culture about spirituality and American identity. Her website is
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