Friday, July 1, 2016

WCPO Insider covers the Parker Academy!

A WCPO Insider piece authored by Sarah Hardee has recently been published about the Parker Academy and NKU's ongoing work to bring to light the history of the school.

The Highlights are the article have been outlined below:

"Thanks to a successful first year, organizers of the project have a lot to work, Jones said. NKU faculty and students have combed through thousands of documents and photos, including student papers, playbills for events hosted at the school and detailed personal journals. Over the past year, about 5,000 artifacts have been identified and cataloged, she noted.
“All of these artifacts and documents are a window into the daily life of all the individuals who were part of this incredible community,” said Jones. “Collectively, they tell such a compelling story.”"

"NKU announced more good news this month: The project has received a boost. Peggy Brunache, Ph.D., an international expert in historical archaeology and slavery, was recently awarded a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Foundation fellowship to help advance the project.
Beginning in August, Brunache will supervise excavations at the site and oversee the archival work of connecting historical documents to the artifacts. She’ll also be working with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a project partner, to build a permanent exhibit for the items recovered from the site.
Additionally, she is tasked with developing outreach and preservation efforts that will help place the site on the National Register of Historic Places.
Brunache, an instructor at the University of Dundee in Scotland, has been involved with the project and spoken previously at both NKU and the Freedom Center regarding its international significance.
Parker Academy was a “beacon of light in a dark time in American history,” she said, and its reach goes far beyond Ohio."

“We have archival documents that reference some students of color were the biracial result of a white, male plantation owner and an enslaved woman. Some of these men chose to provide a life outside of slavery for their non-white children and sent them from slave states as far away as Texas to the Parker Academy in hopes of preparing them for a better life than allowed for their enslaved mothers,” she said. “To find one on the grounds of the school yard suggests this was most likely in the ownership of a student of color, given to them by a parent or loved one to protect them while so far away from home.”
However, there is another possibility. There are archival references that suggest the Parker Academy was (on at least one occasion) part of the Underground Railroad, Brunache said. If that was the case, the pierced coin could have been lost by a slave fugitive that had taken refuge temporarily on the school property, she said.
“Regardless of either scenario, the coin is one artifact that we can say has a specific black/biracial connection,” she said.

“One lesson we can take from the story about the Parker Academy is that social justice can take many forms,” she said. “Most of us are more familiar with the contributions of abolitionists who fought to dismantle the institution of slavery in the hopes of freeing and helping African-Americans. The Parkers were steadfast in their belief that education and the experiential condition of a racially integrated environment for boys and girls, collectively, was the key to ultimately transform society. Through education, all of us become truly free.”