Jacqueline Madison is going to share a different perspective on history.
On Sunday, March 24, she will give a presentation called “From Slavery to Citizenship” at the Peru library at 5 p.m.
IF YOU GO
What: "From Slavery to Citizenship: One family's story of the impact of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama on ordinary African Americans"
When: Sunday, March 24 at 5 p.m.
Where: Peru Free Library, 3024 Rt. 22, Peru, N.Y.
Cost: Free admission.
For more information, call the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association at 834-5180, or visit www.northcountryundergroundrailroad.com.
The talk will focus on three moments in history — the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King Jr.’s involvement with the Civil Rights Movement, and the election of President Barack Obama.
But this will not be a textbook style history lesson.
Madison will instead use the experiences of her family to illustrate the impact of those events.
“I don’t think my story is unique, but typically you don’t hear those stories,” Madison said.
It all starts with Madison’s great grandmother and great-great grandmother, both of whom were slaves in Darlington, South Carolina.
“What my sister and I, and some other relatives, have uncovered is that maybe it wasn’t the greatest arrangement, but the owners were much more benevolent to some of their slaves than anticipated,” Madison said. “Not every slave owner was horrendous.”
The intention is not to condone slavery, but to instead help people understand another side of the story.
“You don’t ever fix a problem until you know the whole truth,” Madison said. “By saying this I’m not saying that I think slavery is a good thing — it’s not, because it doesn’t allow people to be themselves. But if you have thousands of acres, there’s no way possible that even a family of 10 can farm it. ”
From there the story goes to Madison’s grandfather, who she defines as a “quiet activist” who, as early as the 1920s, believed everyone should be treated as equals.
“I never thought too much of it until I got older, because it’s just my family,” Madison said.
But the inauguration of President Barack Obama brought everything together for Madison.
Madison and her daughter went to Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
“Almost 150 years later, the emancipation proclamation finally came full circle,” Madison said. “It’s like touching history. You can imagine all of those people that came before you that were trying to get to this point.”
The one-hour presentation will weave Madison’s family history together and will include some slides. There will also be a question and answer session at the end.
“I think this will give people a whole new way of thinking about things from that era,” Madison said.