Southern Festival Adds Emancipation Track

Humanities Tennessee is gearing up for a series of statewide events about Civil Rights and the Civil War. It kicks off at this weekend’s Southern Festival of Books with a set of discussions, talks and readings marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The festival is known for author talks and signings related to new books, but its parent organization is about history and culture as much as novels and biographies. Melissa Davis of Humanities Tennessee says the festival’s Emancipation track will blend both missions.

“Contemporary writers who are looking at the condition of equality and freedom in the United States today, how it’s changed in the 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and also events in the intervening years that have influenced freedom and equality in America.”

For instance, the editor of The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, will deliver a lecture called “Why Do so Few Blacks Study the Civil War?” And Davis says the festival will also include discussions about the poetry, novels, and essays of James Baldwin and Robert Penn Warren, both of whom wrote extensively about race in America.

There will be a chance to see the actual Emancipation Proclamation in Nashville come February. The document that began the process of freeing America’s slaves will be on display at the Tennessee State Museum for seven days, along with an original copy of the 13th Amendment.

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