This Saturday I’ll participate in Writer’s Block at the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum in Sedalia, NC. I’ll be reading from A Shocking & Unnatural Incident sometime between 1:15 and 2:15 p.m. The rest of the day fellow historical fiction author Blonnie Bunn Wyche and I will be under a tent signing books. I’m bringing my banjo ukulele to play Erie Canal songs and other tunes from the mid-1800s.
The Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum was originally The Palmer Memorial Institute, founded in 1902 by 18-year-old Charlotte Hawkins as a rural African American school. PMI succeeded as a unique private school for more than 60 years. Dr. Charlotte Hawkin Brown led the school for 50 of those years.
Born in Henderson, NC to descendants of slaves, Charlotte and her family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1888 to escape Jim Crow practices of the South and for better social, economic, and educational opportunities. Charlotte was an excellent student and met educator Alice Freeman Palmer while pushing a baby carriage and reading Virgil. Palmer became Charlotte’s mentor, gaining her acceptance to Radcliffe College.
The Palmer Memorial Institute evolved from an agricultural and manual training facility to a fully accredited, nationally recognized preparatory school. It closed 10 years after Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown died in 1961.