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The Periwinkle Initiative is a public humanities and engagement initiative dedicated to preserving the public memory and cultural heritage of enslaved Americans.  The Initiative’s core project is the National Burial Database of Enslaved Americans – which will be the first and only national repository to document individual burials and burial grounds of enslaved Americans.

The Periwinkle Initiative derives its name from the periwinkle flower that certain scholars believe was a common wildflower brought to grave sites of enslaved Americans. 

The most important aspect is digging for the slave’s humanity. The preservation of these sacred spaces is (necessary in order) to remember the past so that our future contemporaries will have a better understanding of American policies that supported this system of cruelty, but most importantly to remember the resilience of the human spirit.
— National Trust for Historic Preservation


























Second Story
Interactive Studios

Second Story is a pioneering interactive media company with studios in Portland, Atlanta, and New York. The firm is known for interactive storytelling in many digital formats for a wide range of brands and cultural institutions. Notable projects from recent years include the National Civil Rights Museum, the Ford Alumni Center at the University of Oregon, the Vault of the Secret Formula exhibit at the World of Coca-Cola, and the media for the Age of Mammals exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. They have designed interactive Web sites and installations for the National Archives, the museum at Gettysburg National Military Park, the Library of Congress, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, National Geographic, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Grammy Museum.

Eddie Opara
Partner, Pentagram

Eddie Opara was born in Wandsworth, London in 1972. He studied graphic design at the London College of Printing and Yale University, where he received his MFA in 1997. He began his career as a designer at ATG and Imaginary Forces and worked as a senior designer/art director at 2×4 before establishing his own studio, The Map Office, in 2005. He joined Pentagram’s New York office as partner in October 2010.  Opara is a multi-faceted designer whose work encompasses strategy, design and technology. His projects have included the design of brand identity, publications, packaging, environments, exhibitions, interactive installations, websites, user interfaces and software, with many of his projects ranging across multiple media.



Ellen Kuras 
Filmmaker & Cinematographer

Academy-Award nominated Director of Photography ELLEN KURAS ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) is one of the outstanding pioneers in cinematography today. An unprecedented three-time recipient of the Sundance Film Festival’s Best Dramatic Cinematography Award, she is well recognized for her cinematography on the visually impressive ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and BLOW, starring Johnny Depp. Kuras was first widely recognized for her black and white cinematography on SWOON, her first feature as a DP, for which she earned many cinematography awards. She directed, shot and produced THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON) her directorial debut and longtime personal project which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009. THE BETRAYAL was also nominated for a SpiritFilmmaking in 2010.

Elizabeth Chapman
Vice President, Resnicow & Associates

Elizabeth Chapman is a Vice President at Resnicow + Associates. She has more than 30 years of experience in communications and has worked extensively with non-profit cultural, educational, and arts institutions in strategic planning, program development, and media relations. Through her work at R+A, she has developed communications campaigns for: the Foundation for the National Archives for the opening of the Archives’ museum facility and their celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation; Thirteen/WNET, New York’s public media provider; the 150th anniversary of the historic Woodlawn Cemetery in New York; the Association of Art Museum Directors; the Massachusetts Historical Society; and the launch of the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, during the centennial year of the Nobel Prize. Prior to joining R+A, she served in the communications department of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Before her work at the museum, Ms. Chapman was a publicist at Bantam Doubleday Dell generating coverage for numerous New York Times bestsellers. Ms. Chapman received a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in 1983.



Amanda Granger
Project Manager, WNET New York Public Media

Amanda Granger is a producer at WNET Education. She manages outreach initiatives and creates PBS LearningMedia resources connected with WNET’s national broadcasts.  She has managed outreach for The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama, Stories of Champions (American Graduate Day) and Shakespeare Uncovered, and has created educational resources for Finding Your Roots and American Masters. Before starting at WNET, she was a professional actress at the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and an English and Social Studies teacher in Houston, Texas.  She is also an experienced instructional coach, and has worked with organizations like Teach for America, MATCH Education and The New Teacher Project to help improve teacher practice and student achievement.  Ms. Granger graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.A. in Global Studies, and has M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Technology, Innovation, and Education.

Chiemi Karasawa
Founder & CEO, Isotope Films

Chiemi Karasawa is an an award winning NYC based filmmaker who founded Isotope Films in 2007 to develop and produce non-fiction content for all media.  Her films have premiered at Sundace, Berlin and Venice Film Festivals, won numerous awards including an Emmy and Oscar nomination (“The Betrayal” 2009), Best Documentary Award (“Billy The Kid”) at SXSW, LAFF, Melbourne, Full Frame, Edinburgh, and Audience Awards at Chicago Int’l Film Festival (“Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me”) and the Hamptons Int’l Film Festival (“Love, Etc.”).  All films have been distributed theatrically, and/or on HBO, OWN Network, PBS and on DVD/VOD, through Netflix, iTunes and Amazon.  Prior to her work in non-fiction, she worked as a Script Supervisor in feature film, television and commercials for more than 15 years alongside notable directors: Martin Scorsese, Steven Frears, Spike Jonze, Larry Clark, Sam Mendes, M. Night Shamalan, David Fincher, Rebecca Miller and Jim Jarmusch.  She has lectured at The New School, SVA and NYU on Documentary Film, and has served on the screening committee for Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund and the Spirit Awards.

Thomas Thurston
Education Director
Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, Yale University

Thomas Thurston is the Education Director for the Gilder Lehrman Centerr for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University. He holds a B.A. in American Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an MPhl in American Studies from Yale University. Prior to coming to the Gilder Lehrman Center he served as the Project Director of the New Deal Network, an educational website developed by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University. For his work developing the New Deal Network he received the first annual award for "Best Multimedia Resource" from the American Association for History and Computing and a "Best of the Humanities on the Web" citation from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Tom has led week-long NEH workshops for K-12 teachers, has acted as a consulting historian for several Teaching American History programs, and has served as a curriculum developer for WNET's Educational Technologies Department, including the documentary series "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow" and "Slavery and the Making of America."



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David Blight
Director, The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition
Yale University

B. Anthony Bogues
Director, Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice
Brown University


Christina Dawkins
Director of Civic Engagement and Social Justice
The New School

Annette Gordon-Reed
Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History
Harvard University

Brent Leggs
Senior Field Officer, Preservation Division
National Trust for Historic Preservation

Yvonne L. Moore
Founder, Principal Advisor
Moore Philanthropy


Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.
Founder & President
Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives

Melanie O'Brien
National Program Manager
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
National Park Service

Eddie Opara
Pentagram Studios

Heather A. Williams
Presidential Professor  & Professor of Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania