Through the Center for Studying Structures of Race, a team of Roanoke College faculty and student researchers, led by College Historian Dr. Jesse Bucher, are discovering more about the history of slavery at Roanoke College and the contribution enslaved people made to its founding and early development.
On Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at the Salem Museum, Bucher will share the findings of the Center’s Genealogy of Slavery Research Project conducted in summer, 2022. Six student researchers worked in the Roanoke College and Roanoke County archives to identify the names and life histories of enslaved people who lived and worked in this region between ca. 1840 and 1865. Their research led to the identification of more than 2,500 enslaved men, women, and children in Roanoke County. Bucher’s presentation will include a screening of a short documentary by the project team that describes their findings, but also the emotions and revelations they experienced in the course of their research. The in-person program is part of the Salem Museum’s Speaker Series and is free and open to the public.
On Saturday, May 13 at 11 am, Bucher will conduct a tour of Roanoke College’s historic buildings, dating back to the College’s first structure, the Administration Building that was begun in 1848. The Roanoke College campus includes a number of historic structures, but three of them—a large antebellum mansion, the slave quarters that served the house, and a nearby family home—provide a rare window into life in Salem in the mid-1800s. Participants meet at Monterey House at the corner of Clay and High Streets. The tours are free and open to the public.
Bucher is associate professor in the History Department at Roanoke College. He holds a B.A. from The College of New Jersey and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. His research and teaching interests include Modern Africa, South Africa, East Africa, World History, History of the Atlantic World, Postcolonial Studies, and Environmental History.
The Center for Studying Structures of Race was formed in 2019 to “provide thoughtful, creative, and innovative responses to the problems of race in local, national, and international contexts.” The name intentionally invokes the physical structures on and around the Roanoke College campus that reveal histories and legacies of slavery and institutional racism including campus buildings constructed by enslaved workers, a former slave quarters and a Confederate monument. https://www.roanoke.edu/cssr
-The Salem Times-Register