Yale University News: GWU Professor Wallace Turnage Explores Slave Narrative

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

In today's modern time, war and most especially slavery were distant ideas of the past; memories that are vaguely remembered by today's generation. Every now and then, there are unique individuals that gently remind us of what society once was, and how evolved into what we experience in the present - Wallace Turnage was one such individual.

Turnage is not a person blessed with fame, but due to his arduous journey to reach emancipation, many historians are intrigued with the unearthing of the former slave's history.

Wallace Turnage managed to store a clear account of his escape from slavery, which was in the form of a 100 year old letter that he had written to family, Shelby Star reported An assistant professor of history at Gardner-Webb University named Dr. Joseph S. Moore, had studied other slave accounts, and most especially Turnage's handwritten letter, while in a summer seminar at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Moore said that Turnage's family resided in a small clamshell box for a century, and there have been times when Turnage attempted to flee; he ran away five times before he finally became successful. Moore also stated tha Turnage's entire journey to freedom that entails all the drama of a daring movie escape, would be lost to history had he not made a written account that explains to his children the hardships that he had to go through in order to be truly freed from slavery.

Dr. Moore was among the 27 college faculty members that were chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges from across the nation. The selected faculty members are selected to participate in the seminar. The Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale, David Blight, took charge of the participants through an investigation of the documents, which includes narratives by slaves, which were written before and after the Civil War. The group also studied original texts and documents from the Yale archives, which include letters written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, who is the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and former President John Quincy Adams. 

As a reflection of what he learned from Turnage's powerful story, Moore stated that slavery is echoing its way back into national consciousness, and that it is a part of history that needs to be reckoned. He also pointed out to the number of cinematic releases that are bringing the issues of slavery into the forefront of modern culture, and also helps students to gain better knowledge about the powerful effects that slavery had in forming the American nation.

The 2016 minseries and remake titled "Roots," helmed by Bruce Beresford. Thomas Carter, Phillip Noyce, and Mario Van Peebles, can prove that slave narrative is important today, according to Vice. The plot series has four parts, which most of them followed the stories of different slaves. 

The series aired on May 30, 2016, and it got 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

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