History Keynote

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Tiya Miles
All That She Carried, Saturday, October 23 | virtual

Tiya Miles is a professor of history and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. She is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Miles is the author of The Dawn of Detroit, which won the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, among other honors, as well as the acclaimed books Ties That Bind, The House on Diamond Hill, The Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens and Ghosts, and Tales from the Haunted South, a published lecture series. All That She Carried, where she traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women, is her latest. All That She Carried was recently named as a finalist for the Kirkus Prize.

Lee Pelton
Saturday, October 23 | virtual


Lee Pelton is the CEO & President of the Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations, with $1.6 billion in assets. He joined the Foundation in June 2021, after serving as president of Emerson College (2011–2021) and Willamette University (1998–2011). A well-respected thought, innovation, and civic leader, Pelton was inducted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce into its Academy of Distinguished Bostonians in 2020. He has also received the Governor’s Award from Mass Humanities (2020) and the Robert Coard Distinguished Leadership Medal (2021), and was honored by the Eos Foundation with a $100,000 racial justice grant in his name (2020). He has been frequently included on lists of civic leaders in Boston, most recently ranking 11th on Boston magazine’s 2021 list of 100 Most Influential Bostonians in his fourth appearance on the list (2014, 2017, 2018). Over the years, Pelton has been active in several higher education associations and cultural organizations including the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education (past chair), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Guardian (UK), Forbes, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Color magazine, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Diversity Journal, and countless media in America and abroad. He has been a guest on National Public Radio (NPR) as well as on NPR affiliates WBUR and GBH, and on television on CBS, ABC and Boston’s PBS affiliate television station, GBH2.


In All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake, Harvard historian and MacArthur Fellow Tiya Miles tells the unforgettable story of an antique piece of fabric, a sack that was given by an enslaved woman to her young daughter, Ashley, before the child  was sold away from her. In 1921, Ashley’s granddaughter told Ashley’s story in 53 powerful words that she embroidered on the sack. Now housed at the Smithsonian, it stands as a unique artifact, a synecdoche, as Miles says, of American slavery. In the absence of written records of the lives of slaves, objects become the bearers of information. Miles brilliantly explores what Ashley’s sack says not only about the inhuman, twisted institution of slavery and the paucity of histories about Black women and families, but also about the meaning of love. Join Tiya Miles and Lee Pelton, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, for a discussion of this moving and highly readable work of social history. Sponsored by the Wagner Foundation.

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