July 22 – Using Archaeology to Unearth Slave History & Rapping Truth To Power

Ellen DanielsAOS

A.D. Carson, UVA Professor of Hip-Hop and the Global South and Matthew Reeves, Director of Archaeology, at James Madison’s Montpelier.


A.D. Carson is a prolific writer, scholar and award-winning artist. His dissertation is a 34 song rap album. His work has been published at The Guardian; Quiddity– the International Literary Journal and more. Carson has written a novel, “COLD,” which merges poetry, rap lyrics, and prose, and The City: [un]poems, thoughts, rhymes & miscellany, a collection of poems, short stories, and essays.

Matthew Reeves is director of Archaeology, at James Madison’s Montpelier. We spoke with him about excavation of slave sites at James Madison’s Montpelier, the new exhibit, A Mere Distinction of Color, and how working directly with descendants of slaves who toiled at the site has made his work and the exhibition, possible. We explored contradictions that existed at the time the Constitution was being formed.



Montpelier Archaeology for digs and ways to participate

Montpelier’s “Mere Distinction of Colour” exhibit

A.D. Carson’s rap dissertation, “Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions.” It uses hip-hop to explore identity, global racial and class hierarchies, economics, citizenship, and language. He received his doctorate at Clemson University.

See the Stripes” – Powerful rap video about the culture of Clemson contrasted with the actual history. Excerpt: “The site of  ‘the most exciting 25 seconds in college football’
was made possible by profits from the most shameful centuries in America’s history, but come to the campus of Clemson University, and you’d hardly be able to tell it from looking around.