The Missouri Humanities Council, Cross-Cultural Strategies, Visit Hermann and the Deutschheim State Historic Site recently teamed up to explore and celebrate the remarkable contributions German immigrants made to the abolition of slavery in Missouri. This partnership lead to the highly successful Symposium on the Shared History of German and African Americans in Missouri held in Hermann at the Festhalle on February 29th to a crowd of 260 people!
In addition to the Symposium these collaborators wanted to engage youth across Missouri in an exploration of this history that is little known. German immigrants to America before and during the Civil War took the lead in Missouri in fighting against slavery. Individuals such as Fredrich Muench, Eduard Muhl, Judge Arnold Krekel and Hermann’s’ own George Hussmann are a few of those early German immigrants that were advocates for the emancipation of slaves in Missouri. Judge Arnold Krekel was a founding Board Member of Lincoln University and helped to raise funds for the institution along with James Milton Turner, an African American reconstruction-era political leader and educator.
Grace Craighead, a junior at Jefferson City High School is the first place winner of the contest and will receive a cash award of $300. Grace will be featured in the Hermann Advertiser Courier. Her essay will also be published for other students and teachers to review. Grace loves history and sports especially golf, soccer and basketball and she is a member of the National Honor Society. For three years she has received the scholar athlete award and competed statewide in golf. Here is what Grace said about competing for this contest. “ I was surprised by how much of a role German immigrants played in Missouri in the push for abolition. I believe this history is important for all Missourians to recognize because it shows the power of people who stand up against what is wrong. Germans fought for abolition because of the threat it posed to democracy, and I think that everyone can gain something from that message. Despite backlash and protests, German immigrants fought for freedom democracy promised, and that is something to be learned from in all stages of life. This history is specifically something for Missourians to be proud of and embrace, so we can carry on the fight against injustices today.”
Cecilia Nadal, President of Cross-Cultural Strategies worked with the partners to develop a statewide contest campaign with support from the Rotary Club of Arnold and the Hermann Lions Club. Cecilia commented, “Grace is an extraordinarily well- rounded individual. We are delighted that she decided to compete with encouragement from Courtney Harrel, her history teacher at Jefferson High. Teachers are indeed the key to students stretching for depth in their understanding of history!”
The contest was judged by Ray Ham, a retired 30-year Hermann history teacher, Muriel Brison, Executive Director of River Bluff Industries and Dr. Deena McCafferty, President of Jefferson College.
For information on the Arnold Krekel and James Milton Turner contest in 2021 or to get a copy of Grace’s essay contact Cross-Cultural Strategies Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org.