Dr. Linda Caldwell-Epps
Friday's Memory, October 19, 2018
This morning in preparation for this week’s Friday Memory, Elaine and I were trying to remember the first time we heard the name, Dr. Linda Caldwell-Epps Linda Caldwell Epps. Thinking back, we realized that it had to be the beginning of 2015 when we were looking for recommendations for a speaker to present at our annual Stoutsburg Memorial Day service in May.
The recommendation of Dr. Caldwell-Epps came from an Assistant Professor we met from the College of New Jersey. So one warm spring day we met Dr. Caldwell-Epps on the grounds of the Stoutsburg Cemetery so she could see the historic site for herself as she requested. So when she agreed to be the speaker for our Memorial Day Service we couldn’t have been happier.
Little did we know that our paths would again cross as the result of our presentation, “A Proud Heritage,” that Elaine, her husband John and I gave at the William Trent House the following spring. Following our presentation during a tour of the Trent House, Elaine noticed the names of slaves listed in William Trent’s inventory. Dr. Sam Stephens, the conductor of the tour, admitted the Trent House had no knowledge about these individuals beyond their first names. So, as spring turned to summer, Elaine and I continued having conversations with Sam Stephens who felt challenged to answer questions about the history of the Trent House and the contributions of the Africans enslaved there. As our conversations ensued it wasn’t long before Elaine and I (representing the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum) and Sam Stephens (representing the William Trent House) applied to partner on a grant with the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) to hold a symposium entitled “Interpreting African American History at Historic Sites and Museums.”
Through the recommendation of NJCH, it was encouraged that we work with a humanities scholar who would act as an advisor to assist us with deepening and enriching the humanities content of our project. And by coincidence (or maybe not!) one of the scholars suggested by NJCH happened to be Dr. Linda Caldwell-Epps--hence the reconnection was made.
The professional career of Dr. Caldwell-Epps can only be described as stellar; time and space make it impossible to encapsulate in this Friday Memory over 40 years of her work with educational and cultural institutions (such as the New Jersey Historical Society where she served as President and CEO), Vice President for Institutional Relations at NJ Network Television and Radio as well as positions with Bloomfield College, awards from Seton Hall University and Vice President of Institutional Relations with the New Jersey Network Television and Radio.
Today Linda, as President of 1804 Consultants, partners on the Sankofa Collaborative along with the William Trent House Museum, the NJ Historical Society, the Grounds For Sculpture and us, representing the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum for the purpose of helping individuals in schools, museums, libraries and historic sites present, interpret and discuss African American history. Our personal connection has continued as Linda has supported and championed our work as first time authors of “If These Stones Could Talk” for the past three years.
When asked by our publisher, Wild River Publishing and Consulting, LLC. if she would care to render a blurb for our book, Linda immediately agreed and wrote:
“All of us raised in the culture that is the USA are infused with weight of the African diaspora in our DNA. Black and white, male and female, northern or southern reared, we were surrounded by the air of capitalism and the disenfranchisement of color that made the world that Adam Smith dreamed possible. Elaine and Beverly skillfully tell the story of the New Jersey version of the African diaspora. Your mind will open more. Your tears will pour. Your heart will first ache and then warm for their tales of triumph will ignite your hope in the human capacity to survive and thrive with the ability to love intact.”
For this Friday memory we want to express our gratitude and profound thanks to a woman we proudly call our mentor and friend. Linda, a woman we now know favors the color purple and calls early fall her favorite season, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of our journey!