Joseph McGill, founder at the Slave Dwelling Project, spent a night in one of these former slave cabin at McLeod Plantation on James Island in June 2010. McLeod was McGill’s third sleepover in an extant slave dwelling. At that time, McGill called his efforts to bring attention to the preservation of these structures the Slave Cabin Project. Since then, McGill has slept in more than 150 cabins and larger structures in 25 states and the District of Columbia. McGill is currently a history consultant at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. | CP file photo

Two nationally known scholars will lead the list of speakers during the 7th national Slave Dwelling Project Conference on Sept. 8-10 at the College of Charleston.

The conference, themed The Stono Rebellion and the Atlantic Word, will offer an in-depth look at the 1739 rebellion, the largest and deadliest revolt by enslaved people in colonial British North America. The revolt erupted along the Stono River near present-day Caw Caw Interpretive Center south of Charleston.

“The Stono Rebellion, a transformative event in the history of enslavement in the Americas, tells a powerful story of resistance and resilience,” said historic preservationist Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project. 

Highlights of the conference will be discussions by two academics who will explore the historical importance of the rebellion.

Dr. Edda Fields-Black, author of the forthcoming book, Combee: Harriet Tubman, the Combahee River Raid, and Black Freedom during the Civil War, will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8 in the Rita Hollings Center. Fields-Black will discuss the region’s lucrative antebellum rice culture, Harriet Tubman, and the Combahee River Raid. Tubman served as a guide for the Union Navy during the raid. Fields-Black is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of History. She has written numerous scholarly studies on the trans-national history of West African rice farmers.

“Beyond Victimhood: Enslaved Resistance on Antebellum College Campuses” will be the topic of  Dr. Hilary Green’s address at 9 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Stern Center. Green, a professor of history in the Africana Studies Department at Davidson College, is the author of Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools in the Urban South, 1865-1890. Her forthcoming book will examine how people of African descent remembered and commemorated the Civil War.

Historical background

On Sept. 9, 1739, about 20 enslaved Africans armed themselves, killed two white men at Hutchinson Store and were headed to freedom in Spanish Florida before they were caught and hanged. The uprising ended with the deaths of 30 whites and 44 Africans.

McGill founded the Slave Dwelling Project in 2010 to bring attention to the need to preserve slave cabins. Since then, he has spent the night in former slave dwellings in 25 states. The Slave Dwellingt Project has also grown into McGill’s mission to honor the African ancestors who lived in those structures.

“I envision a future in which the hearts and minds of Americans acknowledge a more truthful and inclusive narrative of the history of the nation that honors the contributions of all our people,” he said.

Organized by the Slave Dwelling Project, the conference is a collaboration with the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program (CLAW) at the college.

The conference also has funding from The 1772 Foundation. Most of the sessions will be held at the Stern Center. To register, visit: slavedwellingproject.org.


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