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The Colored Conventions
Project (CCP), based at the University of Delaware and hosted at
ColoredConventions.org, brings nineteenth-century Black political organizing to
digital life. These understudied but highly important conventions began in 1830
and spanned for more than half a century. Free and fugitive delegates organized
to advocate for freedom in the South and to fight against ever-constricting
legal rights and ever-increasing violence against their communities in the
North. After the war, they convened to discuss educational, economic and legal
justice issues. All that is left of these conventions are rare and out-of-print
minutes. The Colored Conventions Project amasses them in one digital space for
the very first time, making them easily available--and, with its “Transcribe
Minutes” initiative, fully searchable--for university and independent
researchers and students alike.
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The project was founded in 2012 by Faculty Director Dr. P. Gabrielle Foreman (Ned B. Allen Professor of English and Professor of Black Studies) with Co-Coordinators Sarah Patterson (English PhD Candidate) and Jim Casey (English PhD Candidate). The interdisciplinary team includes undergraduates, graduate students, researchers and librarians from disciplines as varied as English, Black Studies, Art, History, Computer and Information Sciences, International Relations, Plant Science and more. CCP also works with national teaching partners and has engaged over 1000 students across the country in original research based its curriculum, Colored Conventions in a Box .
In April 2015, the team held a symposium "Colored Conventions in the Nineteenth Century and the Digital Age" at the University of Delaware and the Delaware Historical Society. Despite the popularity of other 19th-century racial justice movements--the Underground Railroad and Abolitionism--this was the first to take the Colored Conventions movement as its focus. The symposium featured professors of religion, history, literature as well as those based in Black Studies and American Studies; videos of their talks are available here. Undergraduate students from UD and PSU gave poster sessions on their research; archivists and those involved in preserving the history of the A.M.E. church (and its involvement with the Colored Convention movement) also presented. Videos about the project team, undergraduate researchers and the larger implications of the project itself are available here.