Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar, a renowned historian, author, and lecturer, spoke at the 29th annual Davis R. Parker Memorial History Lecture, an endowed lecture series at The Haverford School, on April 10. Her presentation, “Running from the Washington’s: Ona Judge and the Founding of a Nation,” focused on slavery, racial injustice, and the experiences of female slaves.
Dr. Armstrong Dunbar’s presentation not only focused on the Washington’s decades-long pursuit of Judge, but also on the importance of making enslaved peoples’ experiences part of history lessons. Ona Judge was enslaved by the Washington family at birth, but fled in 1796 on a ship from Philadelphia to Portsmouth, N.H., where she spent decades as a fugitive.
“I was able to use Ona as a portal to the early history of the United States,” said Dr. Armstrong Dunbar. “Ona’s story gives others a unique lens through which to see the founding of a nation.”
Dr. Armstrong Dunbar also spent time in class with history students, and gave a presentation to Haverford’s Upper School student body on the experiences of African-Americans from the end of slavery to present day.
“Each year we bring a prominent historian to campus who will provide the community with a thought-provoking presentation,” said Hannah Turlish, The Russell C. Ball Jr. ’44 Chair of History at The Haverford School. “Dr. Armstrong Dunbar took one of the most talked-about topics of our current times – the treatment of black Americans in our political and legal systems – and grounded it with a narrative full of meticulously researched historical facts. She was masterful in her handling of lesser-acknowledged events and individuals, as well as in her conversations with community members."
Previous Davis R. Parker Memorial History Lecture speakers include former Harvard University president and Civil War historian Drew Gilpin Faust, Columbia University history professor and author Alan Brinkley, U.S. historian and professor history at Yale University Joanne Freeman, and more.