Missouri Germans Consortium would like to wish you and yours the happiest of holidays! We invite you to the many wonderful programs that we and our friends have planned for next year. As 2018 draws to a close, we are thankful for our many great friends, and appreciate all of those who have blessed us this year. Please enjoy this year’s final newsletter, and feel free to share with your friends and family so that we may all enjoy and appreciate each other’s love of our rich history and heritage.
The Emancipation of Sage
On Thursday, January 10, 2019 we invite you to join MGC and At the Mic with Bernice Bennett for Research at the National Archive and Beyond for her Blog Talk Radio show program THE EMANCIPATION OF SAGE Use the Link in the Location to Listen ONLINE! http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bernicebennett
Background: Imagine what it must have been like to have heard of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in January 1, 1863, only to be told that it did not mean you. It declared “that all persons held as slaves”within the rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” The proclamation also called for the recruitment and establishment of black military units among the Union forces. An estimated 180,000 African Americans went on to serve in the army, while another 18,000 served in the navy. This clearly made the Civil War about the issues of slavery. Missouri’s identity for Statehood was based on slavery, with its’ residents from the states of Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee bringing thousands. The Missouri Compromise, trying to bring balance, would allow one “slave” state to join the Union, to balance every “free” state. All it really did was postpone war.
In the 1830s German immigrants had begun flooding our state. Knowing it was a slave state, they had hope that it would change. As thousands arrived from Germany, those fleeing the failed revolutions of 1848, would become vocal and involved in government.
Germans had fled a divided overpopulated famine ravished country and watched with fear as States seceded. Slave owners were the same feudal aristocracy,who controlled the government with their wealth. Here, they saw freedom and Democracy, and the ability to throw off the yoke of kings.
In Missouri, Germans would purchase slaves to free them, hire them, and rent them from “hard” masters to give them a better life. German newspapers fueled the struggle and informed the public. When the government enacted laws to make it illegal to teach the slaves to read or write, Germans would find ways, carefully. Slave Patrols were created just as much to catch someone in the act of “aiding and abetting a slave” as they were to catch a fleeing slave. German homes became”stops” on the Underground Railroad with wine cellars becoming hidden rooms, and church pulpits covering trapdoors. With the call to form black military units, Germans would step forward to lead as officers. Those that could not serve, women and children, filled Contraband camps, protected as best as possible by the military or hidden away. Life was becoming volatile. Homes and families’ lives were threatened.
At the beginning of January 1865, Missouri would move to change this. Calling forth a Constitutional Convention in St. Louis, they elected a German born attorney named Arnold Krekel as President of the Convention. Arnold’s father Franz, a friend of the German writer Gottfried Duden, would be one of the first to arrive in the flood of immigrants, bringing his small family in 1832. Seventeen-year-old Arnold would study English, surveying and law. He would become a State Representative and begin St. Charles’ County’s first German newspaper. And then, he would be the first one to sign, Missouri’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 11, 1865, thereby freeing all the enslaved of the state.
Gitana Productions’ “The Face of Love” symposium will explore the remarkable shared history of African Americans and German immigrants in their quest for freedom
Gitana Productions, in collaboration with the Missouri German Consortium, will explore and celebrate the remarkable contributions of German immigrants to the abolition of slavery in Missouri at The Face of Love: Symposium on the Common History of German and African Americans. Historians, community leaders and artists will come together to discuss the shared African American and Missouri German history on Saturday, February 23, 2019 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the German Cultural Society’s Jefferson Hall at 3652 S. Jefferson Avenue. This event is free to the public.
Please register at www.gitana-inc.org.
Germans came to America in the 1800s seeking freedom from oppression in Prussia. Remarkably, many German immigrants in Missouri also fought to free oppressed African Americans. Using the lens of history, the symposium will bring to life what it means to strive for social justice for “others” while also advocating for one’s own cultural group.
“The rich and shared history between Germans and African Americans in St. Louis isn’t widely known and we want to change that,” said Cecilia Nadal, executive director of Gitana Productions. “Many German immigrants, who often spoke no English, recognized that the hope for a growing democracy in America could only be realized if slavery was abolished. Often threatened and even run out of town by Missouri slaveholders, these men and women even started newspapers to spread their ideals for a color-blind democracy.”
The symposium also will explore the challenges created by contradictions in values and belief systems. While many German immigrants who settled in the Midwest before and after the Civil War staunchly defended freedom for slaves, some chose to set
aside those values to survive. Those tensions, with roots in the past, continue today within many American cultural groups.
KETC-TV “Living St. Louis” producer and reporter Ruth Ezell will moderate the symposium, with special guests Colonel John Hayden, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Police Commissioner, and Herbert Quelle, German Consul General.
● Dr. Sydney Norton, assistant professor of German Studies at Saint Louis University and author of German Immigrant Abolitionists : Fighting for a Free Missouri
● Dorris Keeven-Franke, executive director of Missouri Germans Consortium and author of Missouri – Where the Sun of Freedom Shines in ” Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America ”
● Dr. John W. Wright, author of Discovering African American St. Louis – A Guide to Historic Sites
● Rev. Starsky Wilson, CEO and president of the Deaconess Foundation and social activist appointed in 2014 by Governor Jay Nixon to head the Ferguson Commission
Entertainment will be provided by the local German and African American communities.
In June, Gitana Productions also will present a provocative original play inspired by the amazing stories of remarkable German immigrants who became leading abolitionists in Missouri. The performances will be held Thursday, June 20 through Sunday, June 23 at Kranzberg Art Center.
For more information, visit http://www.gitana-inc.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-721-6556.
Partial funding and support for Gitana Productions are provided by the Missouri Humanities Council, Kranzberg Arts Foundation, Regional Arts Commission and Missouri Arts Council. Additional co-sponsors include Saint Louis University’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and the African American Studies
ABOUT GITANA PRODUCTIONS
Gitana Productions, Inc. is a not-for-profit arts and education organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural awareness and collaboration using music, dance and drama in the St. Louis region. Gitana events present a rarely seen diversity of international and
local artists exhibiting an array of traditional and innovative artistic expressions. Gitana also developed Global Education through the Arts, a community project that uses the arts to promote intercultural competence between youth of diverse backgrounds. For more information, visit www.gitana-inc.org or contact Gitana Productions at (314) 721-6556.
MISSOURI GERMANS CONSORTIUM
Dorris Keeven-Franke, Executive Director