The Missouri Humanities Council and Cross-Cultural Strategies are teaming up with Visit Hermann (tourism arm for the City of Hermann) to explore and celebrate the remarkable contributions German immigrants made to the abolition of slavery in Missouri. The symposium on the “Shared History of German and African Americans in Missouri” will include historians, community leaders and artists who come together to discuss this little-known history on Saturday, Feb. 29, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the historic Hermannhof Festhalle, 237 East 1st Street, Hermann, Missouri. This event is free to the public. Attendees must register at www.mohumanites.org/german-heritage or call the Hermann Welcome Center at 800-932-8687.
“There is a rich shared history between Germans and African Americans in Missouri that isn’t widely known,” said Tammy Bruckerhoff, Tourism Director with Visit Hermann and a sponsor of the event. “Many German immigrants, only spoke German yet recognized that the hope for a growing democracy in America could only be realized if slavery was abolished. These men and women even started their own newspapers to spread their ideals for a color-blind democracy! Hermann was ground zero with the earliest anti-slavery newspaper the Hermanner Wochenblatt started in 1845. This event is a great way for Hermann to initiate our first Black History month celebration.”
Symposium speakers will include Dr. Gary Kremer, author and Executive Director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, Dr. Sydney Norton, Associate Professor of German at Saint Louis University and author of German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri, Dr. John Wright, author of Kinloch: Missouri’s First Black Town and Cecilia Nadal, sociologist and playwright of An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri.
Musical presentations from the African American and German American community will be made at the Symposium with a live excerpt from the play An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri.
Symposium attendees are invited to take a special tour of Deutschheim State Historic Site, available from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Visit the home of the Hermanner Wochenblatt, the German language anti-slavery newspaper from 1845. On exhibit at the Deutschheim Visitor Center, 101 W. Second Street, will be one of only three originals of the signed 1865 Ordinance Abolishing Slavery in Missouri. (This is the state law that freed the enslaved in Missouri. Judge Arnold Krekel, a German abolitionist chaired this convention.George Husmann of Hermann signed this law.)
For lunch there are popular restaurants with authentic German cuisine within blocks of the Festhalle where the symposium is located.
Additional collaborators for this project include the Deutschheim State Historic Site (www.mostateparks.com/park/deutschheim-state-historic-site) and the Showboat
Community Theater (www.showboattheater.org ) with all participating in this first ever celebration of Black History Month in Hermann.
(Photographs and bios of the panelists are available and interviews can be coordinated with the speakers and organizers)
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