The Devil’s Half Acre – Book Talk and Discussion with Kristen Green and Dr. Carolivia Herron
On September 19th, 2022, best-selling author and journalist Kristen Green joined Dr. Carolivia Herron to discuss the subject of Green’s book and Herron’s ancestor, Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who liberated an infamous slave jail and transformed it into one of the nation’s first HBCUs. The Devil's Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South's Most Notorious Slave Jail, draws on years of research to tell the extraordinary story of Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who blazed a path of liberation for thousands. She was forced to have the children of a brutal slave trader and live on the premises of his slave jail, known as the “Devil’s Half Acre.” When she inherited the jail after the death of her slaveholder, she transformed it into “God’s Half Acre,” a school where Black men could fulfill their dreams. It still exists today as Virginia Union University, one of America’s first Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Kristen Green is a reporter and the author of The Devil’s Half Acre and the New York Times bestseller Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County. She has worked as a journalist for two decades for newspapers including the Boston Globe, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She holds a master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and lives in Richmond with her husband and two daughters.
Carolivia Herron is an African American Jewish author, educator and publisher living in Washington, DC. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, and has held multiple professorial appointments, including at Harvard University and the College of William and Mary. Currently she teaches Classics in the English Department of Howard University and has recently been commissioned to write a play about her ancestry. Two of her children's books, Nappy Hair and Always An Olivia, highlight her Virginia heritage. Carolivia Herron is a descendant of Mary Lumpkin.
Want to listen to an audio-only version of this lecture? Listen now on Soundcloud.