Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Featured Professor: Robert Hinton, Africana Studies at New York University


Today we'd like to spotlight Robert Hinton, Associate Director of Africana Studies at New York University. Born in Raleigh, N.C., in 1941, he grew up in the city's historically black Chavis Heights district. In 1993, he earned his Ph.D. in American History from Yale University. For his dissertation, Cotton Culture on the Tar River (published by Garland as The Politics of Agricultural Labor), he devoted extensive research to the plantation culture of central North Carolina and plantation-owning families including the Hintons; he believes that his grandfather, Dempsey Hinton, was born a slave at Midway Plantation around 1860. Dr. Hinton, who supervised all historical research for Moving Midway, lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the artist and choreographer Annie Sailer, and his daughter Phoebe.

Professor Hinton is featured in an article in today's Washington Post that tells the story of how he came together by sheer coincidence with Manhattan film critic/director Godfrey Cheshire and the relationship that was developed during the filming of Cheshire's first film, "Moving Midway".

To read this fascinating article please click here.

Here's a little blurb about the Documentary:
When New York film critic Godfrey Cheshire returns home to North Carolina in early 2004 and hears that his cousin Charlie Silver plans to uproot and move the buildings of Midway Plantation, their family’s ancestral home, an extraordinary, emotional journey begins.

Charlie’s plan is a controversial one within their extended family. Some fear the move will destroy Midway. Others worry about the reaction of the plantation’s ghosts, including Miss Mary “Mimi” Hinton, Midway’s eccentric owner when Charlie and Godfrey were kids.

There’s another group who may be concerned too. Charlie says he was recently visited by a man who claimed that their family has a large, previously unknown African-American branch, due to a liaison between Midway’s builder and a plantation slave.

Back in New York, Cheshire fortuitously encounters Dr. Robert Hinton, an NYU professor of African-American studies who says his grandfather was born a slave at Midway.

While beginning a dialogue on the meaning of Midway from their very different perspectives, Cheshire and Dr. Hinton examine how the Southern plantation, a crucial economic institution in early America, generated a powerful, bitterly contested mythology that was at the center of a string of American cultural milestones, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Birth of a Nation to Gone with the Wind and Roots.

Interested in finding out more about Moving Midway? Check out the website.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Mr.Hinton.
    I have lineage to the Mayflower and I would love to be able to ask you some questions about your work.
    I'm visibly white born in Plymouth Co.Mass. and grew up in NC now living in Alamance County NC. I know there is black ancestry in my lineage and I want to prove it.
    If you could see my mother,you would know what I mean.I have my lineage verified by the Mayflower Society all the way back to Myles Standish.
    There's so much I want to say but I'm not sure if you'll even get this.
    Please get back to me when you can.
    Thnak you.


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