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~ In Conversation with Dr. Fields-Black on “COMBEE” and Harriet Tubman’s Daring Raid

May 8 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The Charleston Library Society and Buxton Books, along with community partners Lowcountry Land Trust and the SC Historical Society, are honored to host renowned author and historian Dr. Edda Fields-Black in conversation to discuss her most recent publication, COMBEE: Harriet Tubman, the Combahee River Raid, and Black Freedom during the Civil War. In her book, Dr. Fields-Black dives into the story of the Combahee River Raid, one of Harriet Tubman’s most extraordinary accomplishments, based on original documents written by a descendant of one of the participants. Helping to shape the conversation will be Chief Conservation Officer of the Lowcountry Land Trust, David Ray.

See below for Event Partners. 

Tickets*: Purchase HERE

$10 – Members

$15 – General Admission

$50 – Members (Ticket includes 1 signed copy of COMBEE: Harriet Tubman, the Combahee River Raid, and Black Freedom during the Civil War)

$55 – General Admission (Ticket includes 1 signed copy of COMBEE)

$60 – Limited Option (Includes 2 Tickets and 1 signed copy of COMBEE)

About the Book:

Many biographies, children’s books, and films about Harriet Tubman omit a crucial chapter: during the Civil War, hired by the Union Army, she ventured into the heart of slave territory–Beaufort, South Carolina–to live, work, and gather intelligence for a daring raid up the Combahee River to attack the major plantations of Rice Country, the breadbasket of the Confederacy.

In COMBEE, Edda L. Fields-Black–herself a descendant of one of the participants in the raid–shows how Tubman commanded a ring of spies, scouts, and pilots and participated in military expeditions behind Confederate lines. On June 2, 1863, Tubman and her crew led two regiments of Black US Army soldiers – the Second South Carolina Volunteers – alone with their white commanders up coastal South Carolina’s Combahee River in three gunboats. In a matter of hours, they torched eight rice plantations and liberated 730 people, people whose Lowcountry Creole language and culture Tubman could barely understand. The Second South Carolina Volunteers included a core group of black men who had liberated themselves from bondage on South Carolina’s Sea Island cotton plantations after the Battle of Port Royal in November 1861. In recounting this history, Fields-Black also brings to life intergenerational, extended enslaved families, neighbors, praise-house members, and sweethearts forced to work in South Carolina’s deadly tidal rice swamps, sold, and separated during the antebellum period. These formerly enslaved peoples of the Sea Island indigo and cotton plantations come together with the semi-urban port cities of Charleston, Beaufort, and Savannah, and the rice plantations of the coastal plains, creating the distinctly American Gullah Geechee dialect, culture, and identity–perhaps the most significant legacy of Harriet Tubman’s Combahee River Raid.

About Dr. Edda Fields-Black:

Edda Fields-Black teaches history at Carnegie Mellon University and has written extensively about the history of West African rice farmers, including in such works as Deep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora. She was a co-editor of Rice: Global Networks and New Histories, which was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Fields-Black has served as a consultant for the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture’s permanent exhibit, “Rice Fields of the Lowcountry.” She is the executive producer and librettist of “Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice,” a widely performed original contemporary classical work by celebrated composer John Wineglass.

Fields-Black is a descendant of Africans enslaved on rice plantations in Colleton County, South Carolina; her great-great-great grandfather fought in the Combahee River Raid in June 1863. Her determination to illuminate the riches of the Gullah dialect, and to reclaim Gullah Geechee history and culture, has taken her to the rice fields of South Carolina and Georgia to those of Sierra Leone and Republic of Guinea in West Africa.

About David Ray:

David Ray is Lowcountry Land Trust’s Chief Conservation Officer. His team protects land and water in South Carolina’s coastal plain using traditional and innovative tools and funding. They steward a wide variety of conservation interests and works with communities to preserve places of natural resource, recreational, and cultural significance. Previously an attorney in government, large firms, and academic settings. He became Lands Program Director for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in 2002. Subsequently, he managed conservation planning and grant-making programs at the Open Space Institute and has led conservation programs for The Nature Conservancy in the Southern Blue Ridge and Colorado. David holds degrees from Davidson College and the University of Georgia School of Law. During his career, he has played a significant role in over sixty conservation projects on more than 48,500 acres.


Event Partners

Lowcountry Land Trust:

Founded in 1986, Lowcountry Land Trust has worked for 37 years protecting land that makes coastal South Carolina extraordinary and sustains the culture that thrives within it. Operating in seventeen coastal counties, Lowcountry Land Trust has grown from a small community effort that rallied to protect an island on the Stono River to an institution that protects more than 150,000 acres. Protecting and maintaining our natural resources by avoiding overdevelopment is crucial to the continued enjoyment of the Lowcountry for generations to come. In addition to Lowcountry Land Trust’s conservation easements held and privately owned lands, LLT owns and protects publicly-accessible properties that are in direct harmony with the culture and values of the Lowcountry. These ambassador sites emphasize the importance of regional lands and showcase examples of conservation to the community.

South Carolina Historical Society:

With 350 years of state history comprised of rare books, manuscripts, and visual materials, the South Carolina Historical Society is the state’s largest and oldest private archive as well as a modern historical museum. Founded in 1855, the organization’s preservation, exploration, and interpretation of the state’s historical legacy continues to benefit generations of learners. Its mission is “to expand, preserve and make accessible our collection; to improve knowledge of and encourage focus, interest and pride in the history of our state.”

Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina:

Coastal Community Foundation works to create communities rich in equity, opportunity, and well-being by uniting people and investing resources so that all community members have a pathway to achieve their goals. Through endowment funds established by individuals, families, businesses and organizations, our combined resources allow us to not only address community needs today, but help us chart a course for a brighter future in the nine counties we serve along South Carolina’s coast. With our donors, we invest millions of dollars through grantmaking, impact investing and scholarships each year. We are also known for understanding and acting upon the dynamic needs of the communities we serve, with recent examples including our disaster response efforts during and after major storms such as Hurricane Florence, and the creation of the Lowcountry Unity Fund in the wake of the Mother Emanuel AME Church massacre to support causes addressing systemic racism.