In celebration of Black History Month, the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center invites the public to a free talk on the compelling story of a slave man known simply as ‘Dave.’ The talk will be given at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Cultural Center’s historic auditorium.

Leonard Todd, author of the book Carolina Clay, will deliver the compelling story of this man who was once owned by Todd’s South Carolina ancestors.

Born about 1801, Dave was taught to turn pots in Edgefield, S.C., the center of alkaline-glazed pottery production. Of great significance is that he also learned to read and write during the height of slavery in the South. Even when the state of South Carolina made it a crime to teach a slave to write, Dave signed his pots and inscribed many of them with poetry. Though his verses spoke simply of his daily experiences, they were nonetheless powerful statements. He countered the system of slavery not by writing words of protest but by daring to write at all.

In 2000, when Leonard Todd discovered that his family had owned Dave, he moved from Manhattan, N.Y., to Edgefield, S.C., where his ancestors had established the first potteries in the area. Todd studied each of Dave’s poems for biographical clues, which he pieces together with local records and family letters to create this moving and dramatic chronicle of Dave’s life — a story of creative triumph in the midst of oppression. Todd is a graduate of Yale College, Yale School of Art and Architecture, and a former Fulbright Scholar to France. For many years, he was a writer and graphic designer. He now lives in Edgefield, S.C.

One of Dave’s significant pots is part of the permanent collection at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center. Following Todd’s talk, the audience is invited into the gallery to view the pot. The audience is also invited to stay for a book signing and reception with the author following the talk.

Todd’s talk is free and open to the public, and donations to the Morgan County African-American Museum will be accepted.

The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center is a nonprofit multi-disciplinary arts organization located in historic Madison. It is located at 434 South Main Street, Madison, 30650. The Web address is www.mmcc-arts.org and the phone number is 706-342-4743. For more information about this event, please call the Cultural Center.

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