April 21, 2020


The From Slavery to Freedom Lab, named after John Hope Franklin’s groundbreaking 1947 study, seeks to examine the life and afterlives of slavery and emancipation, linking Duke University the the Global South.

Explore the archive of the lab’s past events, conferences, and research projects below!

Lab opens September 27, 2018

The From Slavery to Freedom lab, directed by faculty members Lamonte Aidoo, Jasmine Nichole Cobb, and Richard J. Powell, opened on September 27, 2018 at the Franklin Humanities Institute, at Duke University. The lab welcomed key speaker, John W. Franklin, son of John Hope Franklin and cultural historian and senior manager of the Office of External Affairs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and Dr. Valerie Ashby, Dean of the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University.

View the highlights. Video by Eric Barstow.

Photos by Eric Barstow. More here:

From Slavery to Freedom—Speaker Series

The lab has been pleased to welcome distinguished guest speakers including Dr. Hazel Carby, Dr. Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Dr. France Winddance Twine, Dr. Deborah Willis, Dr. Tina Campt, and Dr. Tracy Sharpley-Whiting.

Dr. Jasmine Nichole Cobb and Dr. Deborah Willis, March 1, 2019 (Photo by Jennifer R. Zhou)

View videos and photos of the presentations:

Story+ | Photographic Life of Harriet: Tubman’s Life in Pictures

The Story+ team, “Photographic Life of Harriet: Tubman’s Life in Pictures,” explored the visual life of Harriet Tubman. Students analyzed the archive of Tubman’s visual representation from her own photographs to her enduring images in public memory: statues, memorials, museums, murals, and fine art.

Learn more about the project, flip through the zine, and listen to the team’s curated playlist!

Black Women Writers at Work

“Black Women Writers at Work” was a conference hosted by the From Slavery to Freedom Lab on September 6, 2019 to celebrate the lives and work of some of the pioneers of Black Feminist Studies. The honored guests, who shared reflections on their work, include: Dr. Carole Boyce Davies, Dr. Hazel V. Carby, Dr. Thadious Davis, Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Dr. Deborah McDowell, Dr. Cheryl Wall, Dr. Michele Wallace, and Dr. Mary Helen Washington. A keynote was presented by Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin.

Black Women Writers at Work

View the full symposium video and more at the online public event archive.

Photos by Les Todd. More here:

Black Images, Black Histories

The From Slavery to Freedom Lab presented a two-day conference from January 16–17, 2020 to explore iconic images and popular constructions of blackness in culture. The conference opened with a keynote conversation between Titus Kaphar and Dr. Jasmine Nichole Cobb, followed by a day of presentations from Cheryl Finley, Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, Meg Onli, Rhea L. Combs, and Richard J. Powell.

Explore videos, tweets, blogs, and more on the online event archive.

African Language Initiative

“Faculty have done lots of great work in African history and anthropology, but less in languages. We aim to extend this work by exposing Duke students, faculty, staff, and the Durham community to African cultures through language learning, and to think collectively about how to integrate these languages into the Duke curriculum. We see our lab and the FHI as uniquely positioned to launch this exciting initiative.”

Dr. Lamonte Aidoo

The From Slavery to Freedom Lab hosted a month-long Yoruba course, taught by Samuel Ma’at, in spring 2019.


TITUS KAPHAR, “Behind the Myth of Benevolence,” 2014 (oil on canvas). | Image retrieved here.

In Dr. Jasmine Cobb’s “Intro to African American Studies” undergraduate course in fall 2018, students created a digital timeline: African Americans & the US Presidency.

Dr. Lamonte Aidoo and undergraduate students. (Photo by Jennifer R. Zhou)