Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites

A Dialogue with The Voices Underground Project

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 6:00pm
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This event will be rescheduled to take place in June. 

Please join us for a dialogue with leaders of the Voices Underground Project, Executive Director Gregory Thompson and Cultural Historian Robert Edwards. The Voices Underground Project is an initiative that seeks to increase exposure to the story of the Underground Railroad through creative partnerships, scholarly research, public experiences and historical memorialization. Our conversation will focus on their current work with Lincoln University to promote the nationally significant history of the Underground Railroad in Kennett Square through imaginative site-specific experiences, public engagement, and storytelling.

Gregory Thompson is a scholar, writer, and artist of diverse creative background whose work focuses on race, religion, hospitality, and democracy in the United States. He serves as Executive Director of Voices Underground, an initiative to build a national memorial to the Underground Railroad outside of Philadelphia; Research Fellow in African American Heritage at Lincoln University (HBCU); and as Creative Director of Star & Lantern, a new Cocktail Bar in Kennett Square, PA whose story centers in the African American freedom struggle and the Underground Railroad (Opening June 2021). He is the Co-Creator of Union: The Musical, a soul and hip-hop based musical about the 1968 Sanitation Workers’ Strike, Co-Author (with Reverend Duke Kwon) of Reparations: A Christian Call to Repentance and Repair and is currently writing a book that explores the role of love in the work of Martin Luther King.  He holds an M.A. and PhD from the University of Virginia.

Robert Edwards holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the State University of New York and a Master’s in Architectural History with a certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Virginia. Through writing and graphic representation, Robert’s work invokes the emotion of narrative at the intersection of race, sex, and space. While at UVA, his thesis focused on the Underground Railroad and The Negro Motorist Green Book, exploring the invisible networks of safe spaces for African-Americans in two different cultural landscapes. He was recognized for outstanding academic achievement with the Frederick Doveton Nichols Award from UVA and also received the Opler Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. Robert was recently named a Frank Lloyd Wright John G. Thorpe Fellow with the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy and Advocacy Scholar with Preservation Action.

Robert has worked in collections management with the National Park Service at Appomattox Court House and the National Trust for Historic Preservation at Woodlawn and Pope Leighey House. His experience also includes hands-on restoration work at Jefferson’s Monticello, Chatham Manor, and UVA, and as an architectural historian on an archeological survey in vGreece. His article, “The New Narrative: Will black history finally get to sit in the front of the bus?” was published in The New York Beacon. Robert is currently the Cultural and Architectural Historian at Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects and just became a member of the Board of Architectural Review in Charlottesville, VA.

If you require any accessibility accommodation, such as live captioning, audio description, or a sign language interpreter, please email news@design.upenn.edu to let us know what you need. Please note, we require at least 48 hours’ notice. If you register within 48 hours of this event, we won’t be able to secure the appropriate accommodations.