In the spring semester of my first year at Salem College, I took Dr. Nora Doyle’s Public History service-learning course. To fulfill our required 30 hours of service, I volunteered at the nearby St. Philips African Moravian Heritage site on South Church Street, just a short walk from Babcock Hall, my residence hall. At St. Philips, I learned about the complicated history of Salem residents’ relationship with enslaved people and labor. What was initially an anomaly, where the Salem Moravian community refused the use of forced labor, progressed into a much more segregated environment, characteristic of its neighboring Southern slave-holding settlements.
During the fall semester of my junior year, I was invited to serve on the Anna Maria Samuel Project, a committee borne out of the care and dedication of many members of the Salem Academy and College community and a continued commitment to unearthing and sharing the Academy and College’s relationship with slavery and segregation. Since then, I have been extremely fortunate to be among a group of people who are passionate about Salem Academy and College’s living history, and I have learned so much.
My understanding of this institution and my role within it have been shaped by many people and instances throughout my four years here. This has given me the lens to be more critical, but also, more hopeful for my soon-to-be alma mater.
On Wednesday, April 21 at 5 p.m. EST, the Anna Maria Samuel Project will share some of this history virtually with the community through historical narrative, reflections, and artistic expression. I hope that this event will allow others to commemorate the lives, contributions, and labor of Black people once enslaved and exploited by what is now Salem Academy and College. I hope that students, faculty, staff, and those who are invested in this institution are able to have a clearer understanding of our school’s history. And I hope that this knowledge will inform our choices as we attempt to become a better, more inclusive community. As Founders Day nears, the necessity of highlighting this history cannot be overlooked—we cannot celebrate the legacy of Founders divorced from this context.
If you would like, please register to attend here.
Khadija Bangura, Class of 2021
Anna Maria Samuel Member and Intern