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Read the Revolution Speaker Series with Kari Winter and Rhonda Brace
It is my anxious wish that this simple narrative may be the means of opening the hearts of those who hold slaves and move them to consent to give them the freedom which . . . all mankind have an equal right to possess.
Jeffrey Brace, from his memoir published in 1810

In his rare and powerful personal memoir, Jeffrey Brace, an enslaved man who won his freedom through service during the Revolutionary War, recounts his harrowing journey from enslavement to free farmer to abolitionist. Nearly two centuries later, historian and author Dr. Kari J. Winter brought this important work back into the public consciousness when she republished the memoir, supplementing our knowledge of Brace’s life and times with original documents and new material. In her talk Reclaiming Freedom: Race, Revolution, and the American Story of Jeffrey Brace, as part of the Museum's Read the Revolution Speaker Series, Winter will recount her journey to uncover Brace’s extraordinary fight for freedom. The program will be held in the Museum’s Liberty Hall and will be broadcast live via Zoom. Following the presentation, family historian Rhonda Brace, a descendant of Jeffrey Brace, and Museum President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson will join the conversation to reflect on Brace’s life and legacy and facilitate a live Q&A with the onsite and online audiences.

Born in West Africa around 1742, Brace was captured and sold into slavery at the age of sixteen. He later enlisted in the Continental Army in order to win his manumission. In 1784, he moved to Vermont — the first state to make slavery illegal — where he married, bought a farm, and raised a family. Although literate, he was blind when he narrated his life story to antislavery lawyer Benjamin Prentiss in 1810. His fascinating memoir virtually disappeared until Winter republished it in 2004.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for onsite guests to see a featured artifact, enjoy refreshments at a cash bar, and have the opportunity to purchase a signed copy of the featured book.

Health & Safety Note
Guests attending this program in person will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination upon entry. Original CDC vaccination cards, photos, or electronic copies of the card are all acceptable forms of documentation. Proof of a negative COVID test will not be accepted. For ticket holders unable to provide proof of vaccination, a livestream link will be made available. Masks will be required unless eating and drinking. Please contact the front desk at 215.253.6731 with any questions.

About Dr. Kari J. Winter

Kari Winter Headshot

Professor of American Studies in the Department of Global Gender Studies at the University at Buffalo, Kari J. Winter is a historian, literary critic and screen writer who has served as the Director of the UB Gender Institute (2011-17) and Executive Director of the UB Humanities Institute (2017-18). She completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Minnesota and BA in English and History at Indiana University. Her books include The American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader (2011), The Blind African Slave: or, Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace (scholarly edition of long-lost 1810 slave narrative, 2005), and Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women and Power in Gothic Novels and Slave Narratives, 1790- 1865 (1992, 1995, 2010). Winter also has published dozens of scholarly articles, book chapters, and reviews and has presented keynote addresses, conference papers, and guest lectures at more than eighty venues on four continents. 

About Rhonda Brace

Rhonda Brace Headshot

Rhonda Brace is the seventh-generation granddaughter of Jeffrey Brace, an enslaved man whose harrowing journey from slave to Revolutionary War soldier to farmer to abolitionist is recounted in his memoir, The Blind African Slave, published in 1810. Brace, who is based in Massachusetts, is an independent researcher and the Brace family's historian.

Read the Revolution is sponsored by The Haverford Trust Company.

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A watercolor depicts Deborah and Harry, with their backs to the viewer, aboard a ship setting sail for Nova Scotia. They look out on men and women in the streets fighting for their freedom, as the Americans won the war. Many people were fighting for a place on the ships that were evacuating Loyalists.

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