William G. Thomas’s award-winning book, “A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War” is the basis for a new initiative in Prince George’s County, Maryland, examining the local and national legacy of slavery.
A coalition of organizations and agencies is launching “Freedom Stories” to provide antiracist and social justice programs.
Joe’s Movement Emporium, a regional performing arts organization, has commissioned Psalmayene 24 to write a play about the legal challenges to slavery led by enslaved families in Prince George’s County dating back to the late 1700s, using Thomas’ book as the source material. The award-winning playwright, director and actor is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Mosaic Theater. The arts organization serves more than 70,000 visitors annually.
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System will host a year-long Prince George’s County Read focused on Thomas’ book. Monthly discussion events will explore the local history and how the stories are reflected in contemporary life in Prince George’s County.
Thomas, Angle Chair in the Humanities, professor of history, and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, spoke at the press preview event at Joe’s Movement Emporium on Sept. 9.
Published by Yale University Press in 2020, the book has additionally received the 2021 Mark Lynton History Prize and was named a finalist for the George Washington Prize.