The Life and Legacy of Emily Winfree: From Enslavement to Carnegie Hall

Time Period
1825 to 1860
1861 to 1876
1877 to 1924
1925 to Today
Media Type
Art & Architecture
Black History
Civil Rights
Women's History
Jan Meck

On June 16th, 2022, authors Jan Meck & Virginia Refo held a thoughtful talk and discussion about their new book, The Life and Legacy of Enslaved Virginian Emily Winfree.

The Life and Legacy of Enslaved Virginian Emily Winfree tells the true story of an African American woman who was the embodiment of courage, love, and determination. Given a small cottage after the Civil War by her former master and father of her children, she raised her family through the hardest of times, always keeping them together. The author was joined during the program by moderator Joseph Rogers, Manager of Partnerships & Community Engagement at the VMHC, Dr. Emily Jones, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Winfree, and Ana Edwards, Public Historian, Chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, information about which can be found at

Dr. Jan Meck is a retired NASA scientist, and Virginia Refo is a retired foster care and adoption social worker and an experienced genealogist. Since retiring, both have been docents and researchers at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Dr. Emily J. Jones is the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Winfree. She believes her ancestors have directly influenced her work. Currently, she serves as the Deputy Director of the Center on Culture, Race & Equity and Director of the New York State Education Department’s Technical Assistance Partnership for Equity (TAP Equity) at Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Dr. Jones holds a PhD in Education Policy from Rutgers University, an MS in Elementary Education from Mercy College, and a BA in Economics from Spelman College. 

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Want to listen to an audio-only version of this lecture? Listen now on Soundcloud.