Legacies & Lunch kicks off 2020 with a program today at 12 noon, entitled “Off the Grid: Nature, Black Power, & Freedom on the AR Frontier.”
Through images, stories, and botanical specimens from the field, historian Story Matkin-Rawn and ecologist Theo Witsell will share their research on the challenges of frontier life and use of wild resources among newly freed African Americans in the Natural State following the Civil War.
Story Matkin-Rawn serves as vice-president of the Arkansas Historical Association and is an associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas, where she teaches courses on Arkansas, Southern, and Civil Rights history. She received her PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin in 2009. Her article “The Great Negro State of the Country: Arkansas’s Reconstruction and the Other Great Migration,” which appeared in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly in 2013, won the Violet B. Gingles Prize. This presentation on African American life on the Arkansas frontier is part of her current project, a book manuscript titled “A New Country: An African American History of the South’s Last Frontier, 1865–1940.”
Theo Witsell is the ecologist and chief of research for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Prior to that, he served as a botanist for the agency for nineteen years, researching and protecting rare species and habitats across the state. His research interests include the historical ecology of Arkansas and the intersections of human history and our natural heritage.
Legacies & Lunch is a free monthly program of CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies about Arkansas related topics. For more information, please contact 320-5744.