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African American Museum of Iowa Book Club 802 | Discussion of Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s NEVER CAUGHT

March 5, 2024

7-8pm

Join The African American Museum of Iowa’s Book Club 802 for a discussion of NEVER CAUGHT: THE WASHINGTONS’ RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF THEIR RUNAWAY SLAVE, ONA JUDGE on Tuesday, March 5 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. at Java John’s Coffee House, 400 W Water Street, Decorah. This book club is sponsored by the Oneota Valley Literary Foundation, with support from Dragonfly Books, where you can purchase your copy of NEVER CAUGHT for 10% off.

Led by African American Museum of Iowa educator Sydney O’Hare, the March 5 discussion will center Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s NEVER CAUGHT: THE WASHINGTONS’ RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF THEIR RUNAWAY SLAVE, ONA JUDGE.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he brought along nine slaves, including Ona Judge. As the President grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t abide: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, she was denied freedom. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

“A crisp and compulsively readable feat of research and storytelling” (USA TODAY), historian and National Book Award finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked everything to gain freedom from the famous founding father and most powerful man in the United States at the time.

Why Book Club 802? The club draws its name from House File 802, legislation which bans Iowa governmental entities— including K-12 schools— and public colleges from teaching “divisive concepts.” As a non-governmental entity, the African American Museum of Iowa can continue to talk about race, racism and systemic oppression, and invites everyone to join us in the conversation. Learn more about the law here.

To learn more about this event and other events with Dragonfly Books, visit www.dragonflybooks.com, or contact us at orders@dragonflybooks.com. To order books for upcoming book club meetings, give Dragonfly Books a call at 563-382-4275. Our staff will be glad to reserve a book and have it shipped out as needed.

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