Juneteenth event features symposium on shared history of Germans and African Americans in Missouri

Jim's Journey

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center, in partnership with the Deutschheim Verein, will present a “Symposium on the Shared History of Germans and African Americans” from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, at the Roland Arts Center at Hannibal-LaGrange University.

A public reception will precede the symposium at 1 p.m. with a taste of African American and German American appetizers. The program is free to the public.

The symposium will include speakers, gospel music by the Good Hope Church Praise Singers and a 30-minute excerpt from the play, “An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri,” which premiered in St. Louis and Hermann.

This event will be the first time in Missouri that a Juneteenth celebration has focused on the contributions of German Abolitionists and the relationships between Germans and African Americans.

In a press release, Faye Dant, executive director of Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center, said, “Juneteenth is about education and unity. This event allows us to recognize the little-known contributions of German Abolitionists in Missouri and to bring our communities together as fellow Americans.”

Hermann, Mo., was the inspiration for this event, where a capacity crowd attended a February 2020 educational event about German Abolitionists during Black History month at Fest Halle.

Symposium speakers will be:

  • Gary Kremer, executive director of the Missouri State Historical Society;
  • Dr. John Wright, author of 12 books on African American history in Missouri;
  • Sydney Norton, author of “German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri”
  • Cecilia Nadal, sociologist and playwright who wrote “An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri.”

The Deutschheim Verein will conduct community engagement activities in Hannibal, including asking citizens of Hannibal to send in family or personal stories about German and African American relationships before, during or after the Civil War that are a source of inspiration. That will be followed by an invitation to a small group dialogue sharing stories between Germans and African Americans at the Hannibal Free Library from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, July 22.

The Deutschheim Verein in Hermann is dedicated to the preservation of the culture and heritage of the Germans who migrated to Missouri in the 19th century.

Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center recognizes one of Mark Twain’s most complex yet locally under-represented literary figures — Jim, the runaway slave and friend to Huck Finn. Though Jim is a fictional character, he was based on a real person, Daniel Quarles. The museum’s mission is to honor Quarles’ legacy and offer a glimpse what life was like for him, his descendants and other African Americans in Hannibal during the 19th and 20th centuries.

For more information, visit www.deutschheimverein.org/shared-history or email info@gitana-inc.org for more details.

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