Recorded Webinar: AASLH Conversations: Black Lives Matter and (the American) Revolution

Recorded On: 08/21/2020

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AASLH Conversations 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented crisis in our local communities, country, and world. Many are seeking answers and guidance during this time, and AASLH has been listening to the concerns from the history community. In response, we are offering more online content including the new AASLH Conversations webinar series. While no one has all the answers, we hope these topic-focused conversations will provide a space to share ideas to help us all keep moving forward.

We know many organizations are facing financial strain due to the pandemic, so we developed AASLH Conversations with that in mind. We have drastically reduced the registration fee and are also providing a special promo code to waive the registration fee completely. 

This conversation has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Webinar Description

The wave of anti-racist protests sweeping across the U.S. since the killing of George Floyd on May 25th has propelled issues of discrimination, police violence, and social justice into the national spotlight with an urgency that echoes the civil rights movement of the 1960s. A diverse cross-section of Americans has taken to the streets, despite the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Demands for the removal of monuments commemorating people and events rooted in the repugnant ideology of white supremacy are again on the rise, and many history institutions are engaged in the painful but essential process of reckoning with the role racism played in their own individual histories.

Against this backdrop, preparations for marking the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution continue. How will this renewed social justice movement impact the way history organizations commemorate this anniversary? How will it impact the ways in which Americans respond? What are the opportunities for dynamic, transformative engagement with audiences who seem eager to understand the past in more nuanced, inclusive ways? How can traditional history organizations reshape themselves to meet the interests and needs of audiences now, in 2026, and beyond? And what will the legacy of the Semiquincentennial be--a continuation of older, celebratory commemorations of the American Revolution, or the beginning of a long-overdue reckoning with our complex, complicated past?

A series of two webinars will consider both the big issues of inclusive history and the Semiquincentennial, as well as practical strategies for developing programs and initiatives that move history organizations and their audiences into an understanding of the past that will better prepare us all for the future. In this first webinar, "Black Lives Matter and (the American) Revolution: Shaping the Legacy of 2026," Michelle Lanier (North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites and Properties), Noelle Trent (The National Civil Rights Museum), and Steve Murray (Alabama Department of Archives & History) will consider the big issues of inclusive history and the Semiquincentennial. 


RECORDED DATE: August 21, 2020

COST: $5 AASLH Members/ $10 Nonmembers/ Free for anyone by using promo code below

PROMO CODE: If you or your organization are facing financial strain due to COVID-19, please use the promo code FREEWBR20 to waive the registration fee for this webinar. 

ACCESS: You will be provided with instructions on how to access the recording upon registration.

Recording and Captioning

A transcription of the live event captions is provided with the recording.

Michelle Lanier

Director, North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites and Properties

Michelle Lanier is an AfroCarolina folklorist, oral historian, museum professional, filmmaker, author, and educator with over two decades of commitment to her callings.

Michelle is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

As the former, inaugural director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, in 2018, Michelle was named as the first African American director of North Carolina's 26 state-owned historic sites, under the auspices of the state's Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

She has also served as faculty of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University since 2000 and as a Commissioner of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor since 2020.

Michelle is proud to lead, through the North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites and Properties, a team increasingly committed to a value of True Inclusion.

Dr. Noelle Trent

President and CEO

Museum of African American History, Boston and Nantucket, MA

Dr. Noelle Trent is the Director of Interpretation, Collections & Education at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee where she oversees its permanent and traveling exhibitions; collections’ donations and acquisitions; education programming and initiatives; collaborates with a variety of partners.  In her role, she has presented internationally at the European Solidarity Center in Gdansk, Poland, and at high schools in Warsaw and Sopot, Poland.  In 2018, she curated an exhibition and planned the commemorative service for the museum’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, MLK50

Dr. Trent is an accomplished public historian and has worked with several noted organizations and projects including: the National Park Service, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture where she contributed to the exhibition Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876 - 1968.  Dr. Trent is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Howard University where she also earned a doctorate in American history.     

Steve Murray

Director, Alabama Department of Archives & History

Steve Murray is Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the state agency that serves as the permanent repository for state government records, a special collections library, and the state’s history museum. Murray became Director in 2012 after serving for six years as Assistant Director for Administration. His prior experience in public history included service as Managing Editor of the Encyclopedia of Alabama and The Alabama Review, both at Auburn University.

Murray is a member of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and co-chairs its Education Committee. He co-chaired the Alabama World War I Centennial Committee and is past president of the Alabama Historical Association. At the national level, his service includes terms on the Council of State Archivists and the board of the American Association for State and Local History.

Reach Steve at

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If you have any questions, please contact AASLH Programs staff at 615-320-3203 or