University at Buffalo's

is among the local sponsors of the traveling exhibition,

Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln's Journey to Emancipation,
hosted by the Undergraduate Library at the University of Buffalo 
from March 2-April 15, 2005. 

For more information about the exhibition go to:

Lecture series organized around the exhibition
Keynote Speaker 
Dr. Barbara J. Fields
Professor of History, Columbia University

Thursday, March 24, 7:00 p.m.
UB Center for the Arts, Screening Room 

Biographical Information

Lecture Title: The Stakes of Emancipation

It is impossible to overstate the importance of emancipation in American history. Without a decisive military victory against slavery, the United States probably could not have developed even such a shadow of a democratic political system as eventually emerged. A compromise that ended slavery gradually without war, or one that ended the war prematurely, without a military defeat of the Confederacy and with a gradual phase-out of slavery, would probably have ended any prospect of a democratic outcome. Democracy and democratic citizenship were the stakes of emancipation, though not all participants in the drama of the Civil War understood that those where the stakes. The ones who did were those for whom a democratic outcome was a matter of life-and-death: the slaves and those nominally free persons of African descent whose freedom was hostage to slavery. The stakes of emancipation will remain lost to our view today if we allow our understanding of emancipation to be clouded by either of two prevalent fallacies: that of heroes larger than life and that of race. Focusing on heroes obscures the issue of citizenship. Focusing on race obscures the issue of democracy.


Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram 
Adjunct Assistant Professor African American Studies, University at Buffalo

Wednesday, March 30, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Special Collections Research Room
420 Capen Hall 


Abe Lincoln

Biographical Information

Lecture Title: Rev. John William Dungy (1833-1903)

Rev. John William Dungy (1833-1903) was a Baptist minister, journalist, politician, missionary. educator, bibliophile, farmer, businessman, and public speaker. He was born into slavery in New Kent County , Virginia in 1833. His children stated that he was the child of the 10 th president of the United States , John Tyler. The story of Rev. Dungy's life is poignantly relevant to the topic of emancipation. The story of his life would have been lost if not for emancipation. In 1865, Rev. Dungy returned from Canada to the United States , where he began life anew as a freeman. As a freeman, he made an extraordinary contribution to the life of the former slaves and to their children. By any stretch of the imagination, he was an extraordinary community builder.

The country is virtually littered with the churches he either built or pastored, stretching from Augusta , Georgia to North Carolina to Rhode Island and from Rhode Island to Minnesota and later Oklahoma . Rev Dungy helped to build and/or administer numerous all black colleges including Storer College in Harper's Ferry, Spelman College in Georgia , Shaw College in North Carolina , Hampton College in Virginia , and later Langston University in Oklahoma .

Had Rev. Dungy remained a slave -- or a fugitive from slavery in Canada -- a broad sweep of one man's history and that of numerous organizations to which he contributed would have been lost to history. After his return to the United States , Rev. Dungy's personal journey crossed the paths of numerous luminaries in African American history, including Frederick Douglass, Blanche K. Bruce, John Mercer, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, P.B.S. Pinchback, and others. For instance, for more than thirty years he was the colleague and friend to the renowned William Still of Underground Railroad fame. In 1859, Still had helped Dungy escape once he reached Philadelphia . Dungy would later work with Still to sell Still's famous book on the Underground Railroad throughout the South, ensuring that African Americans would have it as part of their libraries. His success in selling the book -- no doubt -- can be attributed to his inclusion in it. Dungy was politically active in the Reconstruction of Virginia and in the Hayes versus Tilden campaign and was a signatory of the Colored People's Convention of 1876. Rev. Dungy was a consummate fund raiser and was elected by an impressive group of men to secure funds for the John Brown Professorship at Harpers Ferry's Storer College . He successfully secured $15,000.

Rev. Dungy believed in the power of the press, declaring: “the colored race cannot gain and hold a true position in the civilized world independent of the press. It's power is recognized among all civilized people, and those who keep apace with the advance of civilization must avail themselves of its advantages. It has done, and is till doing much for the Caucasian race, and there is every reason to suppose it will do just as much for the Negro race if rightly used.” In 1876, Dungy founded the Harper's Ferry Messenger . Many years later, his son Roscoe would share original articles from the Harper's Ferry Messenger with students of the Oklahoma school system.
It is fair to say that the actions of Abraham Lincoln regarding emancipation allowed John William Dungy to flower as a man. His children, Drusilla Dunjee Houston and Roscoe Dunjee, co-editor and editor respectively, of the Oklahoma Black Dispatch , wrote about Dungy's appreciation of Lincoln and his efforts to rid the nation from the abomination of slavery. Undoubtedly, there are thousands of stories of the lives of men like Rev. Dung -- men whose lives ended prematurely or remained unfulfilled because of slavery. Uncovering from obscurity Rev. Dungy's life following emancipation has been a journey of love and passion. 

Dr. Lillian S. Williams
Associate Professor of African American Studies, University at Buffalo

Friday, April 8, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Lockwood Library Friends Room 


lillian williams

Biographical Information

Lecture Title: "What's Gender Got to Do With It? New York in the Age of the Civil War"

White women were empowered and began an aggressive campaign to get the vote. Black and white women experienced expanded job opportunities and greater access to the public sector and for some perhaps greater independence as a result of the Civil War. For unprecedented numbers of African-American women the war provided an opportunity to work in a free labor market for the first time. Their inclusion into the category of American women, however, remained on contested ground. By successfully waging the Civil War, Northern white men were assured that their freedom was certain and that bondage would not be an element that could undermine that freedom. 

With illustrations, Dr. Williams will discuss the topic and the research she engaged in to explore it. Her essay by this title appears in the collection State of the Union: New York and the Civil War, edited by and with an introduction by Harold Holzer (Fordham University Press, 2002). 

Dr. Allen B. Ballard
Professor of Africana Studies and History, University at Albany

Wednesday, April 13, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Special Collection Research Room
420 Capen Hall


alan ballard

Biographical Information

Book Talk: Where I'm Bound: A Novel About a Black Cavalryman in the Union Army, His Family, and Slavery's End 

About 200,000 African Americans served in the Union's armed forces. This made up about 10% of the Union enlistment. 

The first thing Joe did when he caught sight of those colored soldiers wearing blue Yankee uniforms was to stand staring at them with his mouth wide open till the captain rode up behind him and whacked him across the shoulders with his riding crop. 

"Don't go getting ideas, Joe. We're going to run them niggers right off the river and drown 'em like rats."

In 2000 Where I'm Bound (Simon & Schuster, 2000), by University at Albany professor Allen B. Ballard, was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year and winner of the First Novelist Award of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Princeton University historian James McPherson wrote "The important story of black soldiers in the Union army has finally found a writer of historical fiction equal to the occasion." Dr. Ballard will read from his novel, with performance by the Niagara Falls choir Joshua's Generation. Read a chapter of this action-packed, insightful, and evocative novel at <> and listen to Dr. Ballard read from the novel at <>. 

Where I'm Bound is available in paperback.

Dr. Allen B. Ballard
Professor of Africana Studies and History, University at Albany

Wednesday, April 13, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society 
25 Nottingham Court , Buffalo , NY 


Musical Performance: Joshua's Generation (gospel choir)

Reading: Where I'm Bound: A Novel About a Black Cavalryman in the Union Army, His Family, and Slavery's End 


NOTE: material on this page was sourced from the events page of the exhibition prepared by the local curators.