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The Nellie Ashford Presentation: Video Now Available

by | May 26, 2022


View Presentation Here

In the Spring of 2017, Dr. Joseph Ewoodzie hosted a joint course between Davidson College and Johnson C. Smith University. One of the groups embarked on a research project to explore the genealogy of their families. They uncovered a remarkable truth. Ebony Hill, the first group member and a student of Johnson C. Smith University in the Class of 2017, is a direct descendant of “Robert,” a brother of two individuals enslaved by family members of the Major John Davidson, a branch of the Davidson family.

Grace Woodward, the second group member and a student of Davidson College in the Class of 2018, is a direct descendant of Major John Davidson. They detailed the story in a research paper published in Dr. Joseph Ewoodzie’s Sociology 440 course. Nellie Ashford: Reckoning with Ties to Slavery at Davidson resurfaces the story through the visual lens of Charlotte artist Nellie Ashford, Ebony Hill’s mother, and reckons with the contemporary implications of the institution of slavery: for the families, for Davidson College, for all.

This event was made possible by The Stories Yet to be Told: Race, Racism, and Accountability initiative at Davidson College and by The Bacca Foundation Visiting Scholar and Artist Program. Special Thanks to: Hue House, a creative agency based in Charlotte.

Artwork from the Nellie Ashford project is on display in the E.H. Little Library.

The Artwork

Ms. Ashford’s artwork The Deed of Transformation is currently mounted on the first floor of Davidson College’s E.H. Little Library for display. Afterward, it will be securely housed in Davidson College’s Van/Every Smith Gallery. 

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