For a long time, the Mordecai family of Raleigh ran one of the largest plantations in the South.
In 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves, the Mordecai plantation got smaller, as did most plantations at the time.
Raleigh’s parks and recreation department will examine that shift with a series of lectures at the Mordecai House to mark the 150th anniversary of emancipation.
“The Mordecai family is important, but a major duty we have as historians is to talk about other people who lived there,” said Douglas Porter, historic sites manager. “(Slaves) way outnumbered the Mordecai family.”
The family once owned most of the land in and around the Mordecai neighborhood near downtown Raleigh, Porter said. The plantation had nearly 200 slaves.
Porter will deliver the first lecture about the Mordecai plantation on Sunday, Aug. 16.
The lecture series ties in the historic Mordecai House and family, Porter said. But it’s also important that the history is presented in a way to make everyone feel welcome to take part of the discussion, he said.
“We want everyone to come here and learn,” Porter said. “Our job is to tell a diverse history.”
Civil War commemorations typically remember battles or generals, Porter said. It tends to gloss over the issue of slavery.
The Mordecai House events will tackle those subjects head-on, and hopefully attract people who may have felt left out of Civil War discussions during the 150th anniversary of the end of the war, Porter said.
The month of lectures will feature professors from Meredith College, N.C. State University, Guilford College and N.C. Central University.
At the end of the month, participants can see the Mordecai House property transformed into a stage for a series of vignettes that illustrate life at the plantation before and during emancipation.
Want to go?
The 150th Emancipation Commemoration lecture series will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, at the Mordecai Visitor Center, 1 Mimosa St.
Lectures will continue every Sunday at 3 p.m. until Sept. 20. The events are free.
“Escape to Freedom,” a theatrical presentation, will be from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Mordecai House. Tickets are $15.
For more information and for tickets, call 919-996-4364.