The Museums on the Green is closed for the season. Join us online for a virtual talk with authors and historians from around the globe (schedule below). We also host historical walking tours around Falmouth throughout the year.
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VIRTUAL TALK: “The Other Madisons” with Bettye Kearse
April 1, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm$10.00
THE OTHER MADISONS
The Lost History of a President’s Black Family
For thousands of years, West African griots (men) and griottes (women) have recited the stories of their people. Without this oral tradition, Bettye Kearse would never have known she is a descendant of President James Madison and his slave, and half-sister, Coreen. In 1990, Bettye became the eighth generation griotte for her family. Their credo—“Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president”—was intended to be a source of pride. For her, it echoed with abuses of slavery, including rape and incest. Confronting those abuses, Bettye embarked on a journey of discovery—of her ancestors, the nation and herself. When she tried to confirm the information her ancestors had passed down, she encountered obstacles at every turn. She also learned that wherever African slaves walked, recorded history silenced their voices and buried their footsteps: beside a slave-holding fortress in Ghana; below a federal building in New York City; and under a brick walkway at James Madison’s Virginia plantation.
“I was a pediatrician in inner-city Boston for more than thirty years. I loved it but was haunted by the intense feeling that my life’s purpose was something else…I learned that my calling is to inspire African Americans to embrace our slave ancestry and to show all Americans why we should celebrate the many global contributions made by enslaved people and their descendants.” –Bettye Kearse
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