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A Free Two-Part Webinar Series on the Extraordinary Life of Moses Roper

Wed. April 21 and Wed. April 28 | 5 pm – 6:30 pm via Zoom

“You have heard the slave-holders’ story 250 years…Now, I think it is time for the slaves to speak.”  Moses Roper, 1838

Moses Roper was born into slavery in Caswell County, North Carolina in 1815. After many attempts to escape, he was finally successful in his early twenties, and went on to become a best-selling author, lecturer, and international anti-slavery activist. Yet today, few know his name or the incredible story of his relentless campaign to end slavery. Join the Crafting Freedom Institute, in collaboration with Carolina K-12, for a FREE two-part webinar series on April 21 and 28 (5 pm – 6:30 pm) in which we bring this remarkable freedom fighter out of obscurity. 

  • Registrants are welcome to join us for one or both sessions; participants who choose to attend both sessions will need to register for each separately using the registration links below. You will receive an e-mail from Zoom with a separate link to join each event you register for.
  • Each session will provide time for discussion with presenting scholars, as well as access to newly developed lesson plans to teach about Roper and webinar topics in the K-12 classroom, developed by the Crafting Freedom Institute.
  • Attending K-12 teachers can receive .5 CEUs for participating in both sessions and reading Roper’s short book, “Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper,” available here.

Webinar I | Wed. April 21 | 5 – 6:30 PM via Zoom |

“I Shall Tell the Truth”: Moses Roper, U.S. Slavery and the African-American Slave Narrative Tradition | featuring Dr. William L. Andrews, with special appearances by performer Sonny Kelly

In this session, Dr. William L. Andrews (UNC-Chapel Hill) will set the stage by providing historical contexts for an understanding of U.S. slavery, the rise of the African American slave narrative, as well as a helpful framework for thinking about and teaching American slavery. Dr. Andrews will also introduce us to the life of North Carolina native Moses Roper, including his experiences in the South as a freedom seeker and fugitive, up to the 1837 publication of his Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper in London. This session will further explore the reasons why Roper’s Narrative was so widely read in its own day and why it remains a key text in the African American slave narrative tradition, even though little known or taught today. A Q & A with Dr. Andrews, as well as an accompanying lesson plan for K-12 teachers in attendance, will be included.

Webinar II | Wed. April 28 | 5 – 6:30 PM via Zoom | REGISTER HERE

“I Shall Tell the Truth”: Moses Roper, Transatlantic Advocate for Freedom | featuring Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray, with special appearances by performer Sonny Kelly

In this session, Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray (University of Edinburgh in Scotland) will explore the revolutionary life of North Carolina-born, US chattel slavery survivor and activist Moses Roper in Great Britain. Referencing her extensive research on Roper, she will discuss his various performances and lectures on the British stage, how he named and shamed his former enslavers, and how he insisted on telling the unvarnished truth about slavery’s brutality. His speeches ignited a backlash that forced him to constantly fight for his survival in a transatlantic racist society. This session will also feature key documents like slave narratives, flyers, letters, and poetry, all of which Roper used to campaign for the end of slavery. A Q & A with Dr. Murray, as well as an accompanying lesson plan for K-12 teachers in attendance, will be included.

Hosts and Presenting Scholars

This two-part series is provided by the Crafting Freedom Institute, with collaboration from Carolina K-12 at UNC-Chapel Hill. It is made possible by North Carolina Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. North Carolina Humanities is a statewide non-profit that connects North Carolinians with cultural experiences that spur dialogue, deepen human connections and inspire community. Funding is also provided by the North Caroliniana Society, dedicated to the promotion and increased knowledge and appreciation of North Carolina’s diverse history and heritage.

Dr. William L. “Bill” Andrews is E. Maynard Adams Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also served as Chair of the Department of English and later Dean of Fine Arts and Humanities. His most recent book is Slavery and Class in the American South: A Generation of Slave Narrative Testimony, 1840-1865 (Oxford University Press, 2019). A co-editor of the Norton Anthology of African American Literature, Bill has authored or edited more than 45 books on a wide range of African American literature and culture. In 2018 the American Literature Society of the Modern Language Association conferred on Bill the Jay B. Hubbell Medal for lifetime achievement in the study of American Literature.

Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray is a historian based at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Her research focuses on the recovery of African American testimony in Britain during the nineteenth century. Her first book, Advocates of Freedom: African American Transatlantic Abolitionism in the British Isles was published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press, and her accompanying website, aims to map as many Black activist speaking locations as possible across Britain and Ireland. She has organized numerous community events including talks, school workshops, heritage plaques, performances, podcasts, plays, exhibitions and walking tours on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Dr. Sonny Kelly (special guest) is an award-winning educator, performer and researcher with over twenty years of experience and specialization in performance, group facilitation, interpersonal communication, training, and teaching.  He captures the attention and imaginations of audiences of all ages with the power of words, humor, energy, drama, and intellect. As a scholar, Sonny’s focus is in Communication Studies, Interpersonal Communication, Performance Studies, and Critical Pedagogy. Learn more about his riveting one-man show, The Talk, on his website at


Provided by The Crafting Freedom Institute, in collaboration with Carolina K-12. Funded by North Carolina Humanities, with additional support from the North Caroliniana Society.