New fellowship to shed light on history of slavery in DC

Conversations around racial injustice have led to a new effort to better understand D.C.’s history with slavery.

The independent nonprofit White House Historical Association, in cooperation with American University, hopes to keep the dialogue going with a new fellowship that will dig deeper into the connection between the District, including the White House, and slavery.

“Slavery is more of the root of where you see those issues started, so we’re going to expound upon that, said Mia Owens, the first student selected for the program. She’s a first-year public history graduate student at American University, and grew up learning about the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama.

She said her experience there fueled her desire to better connect others to that history. “It’s led me to become more interested in learning about how enslaved people have dealt with challenges,” she added.

CLICK TO EXPAND: Mia Owens, at left, is the first recipient of a fellowship to study the history of slavery in D.C. (Courtesy Ohio History Service Corps)

The fellowship is a joint effort between the university’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center and the White House association. The goal is to give graduate students an opportunity to continue exploring the history of slavery in D.C.

Through the fellowship, Owens will also explore how slavery was part of AU’s history. “Both American [University] and the White House Historical Association have been working toward these goals of having more diversity and inclusion in the stories that they tell. I’m really excited that I get to be a part of that.”

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