History explained through celebration

Published 10:29pm Saturday, February 12, 2011

By Rick Couch

The Selma Times-Journal

Stories of African-American history with links from Canada to Alabama will be featured during the fifth annual Conference of the Black Belt African-American Genealogical and Historical Society Feb. 18 and 19.

The conference opens Feb. 18 at the Larry D. Striplin Jr. Performing Arts Center and continues with daily workshops and an awards ceremony Feb. 19 at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center.

The conference will open Friday with a reception and the showing of the documentary “The Language You Cry In.” The film tells the story of how a five-line song of a Gullah woman living in coastal Georgia in the 1930s was linked back to 18th century Sierra Leone in Africa.

Wilson Moran, a descendent of the woman, Amelia Dawley, will present the film.

The film’s narrator, Vertamae Grosvenor, says the film is “a story of memory, how the memory of a family was pieced together through a song with legendary powers to connect those who sang ti with their roots.”

The keynote speaker for the awards luncheon will be Deanna Bowen, a Canadian descendent of Alabama and Kentucky born slaves.

Bowen, an artist and lecturer at the University of Toronto, will show her recently commissioned oral history film “Sum of All Parts: What can Be Named,” about her anscestors who were pioneers of Amber Valley, Alberta in Canada.

The registration fee for the entire conference, which includes Friday night’s opening reception and documentary presentation. Saturday workshop and awards luncheon, is $35.

Reduced rates for students and seniors are available.

For more information, visit www.bbaaghs.org or e-mail bbaaghs@bbaaghs.org.

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