Southern history expert to visit Troy

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Ora Nelson

Staff Writer

Students are invited to learn more about Southern history from an expert on the African Diaspora on Jan. 28 at Troy University.

Sylviane Diouf, a visiting professor at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and award-winning author, will speak at the Mitchell-McPherson Lecture about her book “Dreams of Africa in Alabama” and its connection with the slave ship “Clotilda.” 

The news broke on the day of the lecture last year that part of the “Clotilda” had been found in the gulf near Mobile. This discovery, later disproved, sparked the interest of this year’s host of the lecture, Martin Olliff, a professor of history at the Dothan campus.

“At that point, because I knew of the ‘Clotilda’ and that Dr. Diouf had written a book about the enslaved people on the ship and their community afterwards, I asked her if she wanted to present this year’s lecture,” Olliff said.

The “Clotilda” was transporting a cargo of enslaved people illegally more than 50 years after it was made illegal in the Constitution. Diouf will talk about the lives of those who, before, during and after slavery, came to the United States on the “Clotilda.”

“I will talk about the ongoing search for the shipwreck during the lecture,” Diouf said. 

She will provide documents and photos with her lecture to aid in students’ “understanding the connections between the past and the present.”

“It’s an important part of Alabama’s history,” said Josie Wiggins, a freshman studio art major from Brewton. “If someone is interested in history, they should go to the lecture on Monday.”

“This lecture series is an important part of both Alabama and Southern history,” Olliff said.

“History is not simply about the past,” Diouf said. “It is also about the present and the future.” 

The event will be held in the Crosby Theater from 5-6 p.m. with free admission.

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