DC History Conference

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Date(s) - 11/22/2019
9:00 am - 10:15 am

University of the District of Columbia

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Kim presents the Opening Plenary Speech at the 2019 D.C. History Conference on “Abolitionist Poets of Washington.” The conference explores the theme “Communities and Characters.” Through panel sessions, posters, workshops, tours, and films, presenters will examine some of the major figures and interesting personalities who have shaped Washington, for better or worse, throughout its history. $30 admission, $15 for students and seniors; pre-registration required.

“In the decades leading up to the Civil War, Washington became a hotbed of abolitionist debate. Caught between its Southern roots and its prominence as a ‘model city’ for the nation, it was truly a city divided. The House of Representatives was so overwhelmed by abolitionist petitions that it instituted a ‘Gag Rule’ curtailing all debates about slavery between 1836 and 1844. The city had become a center for the slave trade (especially internal trade of American-born slaves into the deep South); in response, it also became a hub for the underground railroad. Writers responded with an outpouring of poems on the subjects of slavery and abolition. Poetry was seen as a unique form of moral persuasion: its meter and rhyme aided in memorization and made arguments more emotional and more forceful.”