Building A Nation is a project born out of my passions: woodworking, history, and racial justice. In America, people tend to think that enslaved people were nothing more than simple-minded field hands, but in fact, many enslaved people were incredibly skilled in their area of expertise, offering innovations and insight that went as ignored as their real names and families. I intend to look at how enslaved woodworkers helped build this nation in a literal sense, constructing buildings like the White House, Monticello, and countless others, as well as the furniture and cabinetry within them. I will also look at how currently enslaved people, those folks who are incarcerated and forced to do work for as little as $0.23/hour, continue to build this nation through programs like UNICOR that provide furniture for universities and government agencies. This is challenging work to uncover a history that has been and is ignored and erased, but we must dig deep if we are to work toward a more just society that recognizes the contributions of those we often forget.
To put it succinctly:
Building A Nation seeks to take seriously the claim that Black folks quite literally built this country. The project does this by uncovering the enslaved and incarcerated woodworkers of the past and present to recognize their humanity, give them credit for their labor, and tell their stories.