Historian Dr. Kari J. Winter to Discuss Powerful Memoir of Formerly Enslaved Revolutionary War Veteran Jeffrey Brace, Feb. 17January 19, 2022
Brace’s Descendant, Rhonda Brace, Will Join Winter for Q&A Session
Event is Part of the Museum’s Read the Revolution Speaker Series
Historian and author Dr. Kari J. Winter will discuss the rare and powerful memoir of Jeffrey Brace, an enslaved man who won his freedom through service during the Revolutionary War, on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Museum of the American Revolution. The 1810 memoir, which Winter republished in 2005, recounts Brace’s harrowing journey from enslavement to free farmer to abolitionist. Following the talk, Winter will be joined by family historian Rhonda Brace, a descendant of Jeffrey Brace, for a question-and-answer session with the onsite and online audiences.
The event is part of the Museum’s Read the Revolution Speaker Series and Black History Month celebration. It will take place live in the Museum’s Liberty Hall and will be livestreamed for ticketed online viewers.
Born in West Africa around 1742, Jeffrey 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.
Nearly two centuries after it was written, Winter brought this long-lost work back into the public consciousness when she republished it in 2005, 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, Winter will recount her journey to uncover Brace’s extraordinary fight for freedom.
“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 1810 memoir, The Blind African Slave
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. Tickets are $20 for general admission onsite and $15 for Zoom-only access. Member tickets are $15 onsite and $10 for Zoom-only access. Tickets can be purchased here.
The Museum’s Read the Revolution Speaker Series brings celebrated authors and historians to the Museum for lively discussions of their work. Now in its fifth year, the series is based on the Museum’s national Read the Revolution bi-monthly e-newsletter, which features excerpts from thought-provoking books about the American Revolution.
Read the Revolution is sponsored by The Haverford Trust Company.
Health and 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 or visit the Museum’s Health and Safety page.
About Dr. Kari J. Winter
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 doctorate in English at the University of Minnesota and bachelor’s degree 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, 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 80 venues on four continents.
About Rhonda Brace
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.
About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.