Dr. Craig Stutman, who co-chairs the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road Project, will help dedicate a new bench Friday, Sept. 18.
LINCOLN, Pa., —The Toni Morrison Society’s Bench By The Road Project and The Friends of Hosanna at Lincoln University will dedicate a new bench at Hosanna A.U.M.P (African Union Methodist Protestant) Church on Friday, Sept. 18 at 12 p.m. in Lincoln, Pennsylvania. Dr. Craig Stutman, a DelVal assistant professor of history and policy studies, who co-chairs the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench By The Road Committee, will help facilitate the unveiling and dedication of the new bench on Friday.
The Bench by the Road Project is a public history initiative that places benches at sites of African-American historical significance. The name "Bench by the Road" comes from a Toni Morrison quote about the lack of historical markers remembering Africans who were enslaved.
“There's no 300-foot tower, there's no small bench by the road…and because such a place doesn't exist . . . the book had to,” said Morrison in a 1989 interview with The World about her novel “Beloved.”
Each bench tells a compelling story taken from African-American history. Dr. Stutman has been involved with many of the 16 benches (including the upcoming one) placed by the Toni Morrison Society helping with everything from historical research; to writing the narratives that appear on the plaques that accompany the benches; to working with the communities, institutions, and organizations receiving them to plan dedications.
The new bench is being dedicated to honor the center of a former African-American farming community, Hinsonville. It was a significant stop on the Underground Railroad and the land right behind the church became the grounds for Lincoln University. The Church cemetery also contains graves of Hinsonville's earliest families and Black Civil War veterans.
Hosanna A.U.M.P Church is located on Baltimore Pike near the front entrance to the Lincoln University campus located at 1570 Baltimore Pike, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. Off-street parking will be available behind the church. Enter the stone archway onto Lincoln’s campus and follow the signs for "Hosanna Parking."
12:00 p.m.: The Bench dedication ceremony begins inside the historic Hosanna church. Speakers will include Dr. Cheryl Renée Gooch, Convener, Friends of Hosanna at Lincoln University; Pennsylvania State Senator Andy Dinniman; Dr. Evelyn Schreiber, Toni Morrison Society; and Hersey Gray a descendant of an early Hosanna church family.
12:30-12:45 p.m.: Assembled guests will walk to the adjacent church cemetery led by The Singing and Praying Bands of Maryland and Delaware.
12:45-1:00 p.m.: Dr. Craig Stutman, assistant professor of history and policy studies at Delaware Valley University and co-chair of the Toni Morrison Society's Bench by the Road Committee, and members of the Friends of Hosanna at Lincoln University will facilitate the bench unveiling and dedication.
Dr. Stutman will also be speaking at DelVal's upcoming sustainability program “Land and the American Dream.” He is organizing a panel on the history of African American farming families for the symposium on land. To learn more about the event, visit: delval.edu/pa.