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March 18, 2002

Conference to tell 'Herstory'

By Stephanie Sonnenfeld


IHundreds of stories and thousands of years of will converge on Saturday, March 23, when Emory hosts the fifth annual National Black Herstory Conference.

The conference is sponsored by the National Black Herstory Task Force, which has called Emory home since its founding in 1997. Its president, Mozella Galloway, an information analyst in the School of Medicine’s graduate medical education division, co-founded the group with Khalil Osiris Sudan, a Dayton, Ohio, resident who first became interested in the idea of a Herstory observance during his graduate studies.

The two first discussed establishing a Herstory observance and organization in 1992, and four years later they founded the task force with a simple mission of providing vehicles to “collect, authenticate, document, archive and celebrate” the lives of women of African descent. The Women’s Center, a Herstory conference co-sponsor from the beginning, invited the group’s board of directors to use its space to hold meetings.

“When we started telling women about [the task force idea], the reaction was phenomenal,” Galloway said. “There is a lot of inaccuracy in the telling of our stories and a lot of omission. People say, ‘We should do something about it.’ Well, why not start with us? It takes more than us, but why can’t we start a task force that will tell all the stories?”

This year’s Herstory conference (which about 100 people are expected to attend) deals with grandmothers and their histories, as reflected in its theme, “Remembering Grandma’s Hands: Lessons, Trials and Triumphs.” Panelists and audience members will share recollections of women who regarded as keepers of cultural traditions and role models for generations.

Conference sessions include:

• Examining Our Grandmothers’ History. Panelists include grandmothers and grandchildren leading an interactive discussion documenting the life stories of grandmothers.

• Grandma Moses: Harriet Tubman and the Message Quilts. Re-enactment of Harriet Tubman’s life featuring message quilts.

• National Black Herstory Memorial Quilting Project. Session marks the beginning of a three-year quilting project to honor women of African descent and supporters of their rights.

• Raising Sons and Daugh-ters. Panelists will examine different effects of parental and extended family influences on the lives of children of African descent.

The conference will conclude with an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. in Cannon Chapel. Honorees include: The Central Outreach Ministries of Central Presbyterian Church (The National Black Herstory Comrade Salute Award); Alesia Adams of the Center to End Adolescent Sexual Exploitation (The Lucy Terry Prince Award); Dorothy Marie Gaines, a drug law revisionist activist (The National Black Herstory Auset Award); and Corrie Van Exel, a fourth-year student at the School of Medicine (The Beverly L. Hall Young Adult Award).

The conference is free for the Emory community, $10 for other students and senior citizens and $30 for other attendees, and the awards ceremony is $15 for general admission. Galloway said she hopes the low prices and close venue help attract more students—whom Galloway considers crucial to sustaining the history of past and present generations.

“The oral traditions are not being passed on because [students] don’t have the time or the money. But they will get interested in something if it’s affordable and if you bring it to them,”she said.

Stories collected at this conference will become part of the task force’s growing research collection, which Galloway hopes eventually to house in a permanent library and museum facility proposed for Atlanta. She said the project is in its early stages, but a capital campaign is in the works with the goal of making the building a reality within five years.

For more information about the conference, call 404-508-8040 or e-mail For more information about the National Black Herstory Task Force, visit