Kim HarrisFeaturing an Overnight Stay by the Slave Dwelling Project’s Terry James and the TMI Project

New Paltz, N.Y. (May 23, 2017) – Join Historic Huguenot Street on Saturday, June 17, on the DuBois Fort lawn for a celebration of African culture, music, and cuisine in honor of Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, carrying news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved had been freed.

This special event will be catered by Chef Brandon Walker, Culinary Institute of America graduate and owner of Essie’s Restaurant in Poughkeepsie. Chef Walker's cuisine takes inspiration from his American South and Caribbean heritage, and incorporates modern cooking techniques and local seasonal ingredients. The founder of B&L Hospitality, he has received numerous accolades throughout his career, and was a winning contestant on Food Network’s competition series Rewrapped. Chef Walker will be consulting with culinary historian Michael W. Twitty on the evening's menu. Author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South (HarperCollins, August 2017), Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, and historical interpreter whose work preserves and promotes African American foodways, their parent traditions in Africa, and their legacy in the food culture of the American South. As he describes on his blog, Afroculinaria, “The reconstruction and revival of traditional African American foodways means seed keeping, growing heirlooms and heritage crops, raising heritage breeds and sustainably gathering and maintaining wild flora and fauna that our ancestors relied upon.”

Dynamic musician and storyteller Kim Harris will perform songs of joy, hope, and freedom at the event, combining a strong folk and gospel legacy with classical, rock, and pop influences. Harris has earned wide acclaim for her contributions to the historical and educational knowledge base on the Underground Railroad and the modern civil rights movement. More than just a singer/songwriter, she is an educator, interpreter of history, and cultural advocate.

Terry James, Board Member of the Slave Dwelling Project, will speak at the event about the meaning of Juneteenth while dressed in his reenactment uniform of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, one of the first official African American units in the United States during the Civil War. As a living historian and member of the Slave Dwelling Project, James has slept, shackled, in over 40 slave dwellings to commemorate the enslaved ancestors who survived the Middle Passage, and to bring awareness to the existence of historic slave dwellings, their history, and their need for preservation.

Following the event, James will once again spend the night in a Huguenot Street slave cellar as he did in September 2016. This year, he will share the cellar with #BlackStoriesMatter writers from the TMI Project, is a non-profit organization that offers transformative memoir and monologue writing workshops and performances that invite storytellers and audience members to explore new perspectives. Following their overnight stay on Huguenot Street, participants will engage in a series of 10 writing workshops to craft monologues inspired by their lives and their experience on Huguenot Street. Participants will perform these monologues publicly in the fall.

Juneteenth: A Celebration of African Culture, Music, and Cuisine will take place at 5 pm on Saturday, June 17, on the DuBois Fort lawn. Registration is currently available at huguenotstreet.org/juneteenth. General admission is $20 through May 31, and $25 thereafter. This event is sponsored by a Humanities New York Action Grant, and is a part of New York State’s Path Through History Weekend.

A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 New Paltz settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century.  It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve the nationally acclaimed collection of stone houses.  Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York Department of Education, that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.

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Kaitlin Gallucci, Director of Marketing & Communications
(845) 255-1660, media@huguenotstreet.org