CANCELLED | Thomas Jefferson in Free Black Political Thought

CANCELLED | Thomas Jefferson in Free Black Political Thought


In keeping with guidance provided by the American Alliance of Museums and our peer institutions within the region, LancasterHistory has made the decision to cancel the Thomas Jefferson in Free Black Political Thought lecture planned for March 26, 2020. We apologize for any inconvenience but believe this to be the best course of action for the health and safety of our community. We will be contacting ticketholders in the near future and notifying them on this cancellation.

LancasterHistory will continue to evaluate the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and respond accordingly. Any updates to our operations or programs during this time can be accessed on our website at

On Thursday, March 26, 2020, University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Mia Bay will join LancasterHistory to examine how African Americans viewed Thomas Jefferson and reflected upon him in letters and pamphlets since the 1790s. For event details and how to register, please scroll to the bottom of this page.

Although a slaveholder, Thomas Jefferson was one of the central architects of an American democratic tradition that held an early and abiding appeal for African Americans. As such, he became a central, if unlikely, figure in the African American freedom struggle that took shape alongside the American Revolution. Dr. Mia Bay will discuss how, starting in the 1790s, black authors began to talk back to Jefferson in letters, orations, and pamphlets that both praised Jefferson and took him to task.

Mia Bay, Ph.D.Mia Bay, Ph.D. is the Roy F. and Jeanette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University Pennsylvania. Professor Bay is a scholar of American and African American intellectual, cultural and social history, whose recent interests include black women’s thought, African American approaches to citizenship, and the history of race and transportation. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Phil. from Yale University and a B.A. from the University of Toronto. Bay’s publications include The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas about White People, 1830-1925 (Oxford University Press, 2000); To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009) and the edited work Ida B Wells, The Light of Truth: The Writings of An Anti-Lynching Crusader (Penguin Books, 2014); as well as many articles and book chapters. Bay is also a frequent consultant on museum and documentary film projects. Her recent public history work includes working with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on one of its inaugural exhibits– “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876-1968”– and serving a scholarly advisor to the Library of Congress and NMAAHC’s Civil Rights History Project.


A casual reception will begin at 4pm on Thursday, March 26 at LancasterHistory, 230 N. President Ave., Lancaster. The main presentation will begin at 4:30pm in Ryder Hall.

The program is free and open to the public but requires advance registration to guarantee a seat at the presentation. Register online by clicking “Get Tickets” below or by calling (717) 392-4633. Questions and accessibility requests may be directed to or (717) 392-4633. Ticketholders should bring a paper printout of their tickets or be able to display their tickets on a cellphone or other internet-enabled device to check-in to the lecture.

Membership Makes History Happen! Your membership enables us to bring dynamic speakers to LancasterHistory for our lecture series throughout the year, and gives you other exciting benefits! Learn more about becoming a member of LancasterHistory or renewing your membership today.

Lecture Reception

March 26, 2020 Ryder Hall at LancasterHistory, 230 N. President Avenue 4pm Reception | 4:30pm Main Presentation FREE | Registration Required To Guarantee Seat