Past Keynote Speakers

2014 Keynote Speaker Jeffrey Fortin, Ph.D., M.A.

Jeffrey A. Fortin Ph.D., M.A., is Assistant Professor of History at Emmanuel College, Boston. He has published several articles and book chapters on forced migration, race and identity in the Atlantic world, and in journals such as Atlantic Studies. The following is a listing of his work (from his website at Emmanuel College):

Journal Articles/Book Chapters:
  • "Cuffe's Black Atlantic World, 1807-1817," in Atlantic Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2 (October 2007), 245-266.
  • "Blackened beyond Our Native Hue:" Removal, Identity and the Trelawney Maroons on the Margins of the Atlantic World, 1796-1800" in Freedom on the Margins: A Special Issue of Citizenship Studies. Vol. 10, No. 1 (February 2006), 5-34.
  • "'An Act of Deportation:' Jamaican Maroons' Journey from Freedom to Slavery and Back Again, 1796-1836," in Slaving Paths: Rebuilding and Rethinking the Atlantic World, ed Ana-Lucia Araujo, New York: Cambria Press, 2011.
  • "Slave Resistance and Rebellion" in The Atlantic World, 1450-1850, ed. William O'Reilly, London: Routledge, June 2011 (Forthcoming December 2011)

  • Atlantic Biographies: Individuals and Peoples in the Atlantic World. eds Mark Meuwese & Jeffrey A. Fortin. Leiden: Brill Academic Press, (forthcoming 2013).
  • Book Manuscript: "Paul Cuffe: Yeoman," in progress.

 2014 Keynote Speaker Vincent Leggett

As a young boy growing up in east Baltimore, Vince Leggett was introduced to the Chesapeake Bay by weekend fishing trips with his father.  “I caught the spirit of the Chesapeake,” he recalls.  “There was a freedom that came with being on the water, away from the asphalt and concrete.”  For more than thirty years, he has roamed the expanses of the Chesapeake waterfront, tirelessly interviewing people, “hanging out and mixing up” with waterside residents, and “suitin’ up and showin’ up at Bay functions.

Since his early childhood, Mr. Leggett has had a fascination with Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad operating on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, particularly the role the Chesapeake Bay, rivers and creeks played to help spirit fugitive slaves to freedom.  Leggett’s work has been featured in the Annapolis Capital Gazette, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Star Democrat and various other publications.  His article from his unpublished manuscript, “Chesapeake Underground:  Charting a Course to Freedom” (2000) was featured in the Spring 2000 issue of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources magazine and  has been cited by numerous authors writing about Tubman and the Underground Railroad.  Leggett has worked extensively with the EPA’s Chesapeake Gateways and Water Trails Program identifying a number of key sites along Maryland’s waterways as it relates to Underground Railroad activities.

In 2013, Leggett along with U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin (Md.), Robert Stanton, retired director of the National Park Service advocated for the passage of legislation to establish the Harriet Tubman National Park in Dorchester County Md.  Leggett cited the connections with the waterways in his interviews and testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar appointed Leggett to the Advisory Council for the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail in 2011 based upon his expertise on African American history along the Chesapeake.

Mr. Leggett is the founder of the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation and the African American Land Trust, Inc.  Both organizations are dedicated to the preservation of history, heritage, and land along the reaches of the bay.   Mr. Leggett is the author of The Chesapeake Bay Through Ebony Eyes(1999) and Blacks of the Chesapeake:  An Integral Part of Maritime History (1997).  He has also developed a curriculum on Blacks of the Chesapeake, which is used by school systems in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

Currently, Mr. Leggett is serving as a Maryland Humanities Council Scholar lecturing extensively throughout the region on the role of African Americans in the War of 1812.  Mr. Leggett portrays Charles Ball, a third-generation slave from Calvert County, Maryland who, after being sold to a trader in the Deep South, escaped back to his home state.  Upon his return to Maryland, he acted as a free man and fought in the War of 1812 on behalf of the United States.  In addition, Mr. Leggett was featured in a nationally broadcasted documentary film shown on PBS again, chronicling the many contributions of African Americans in the war of 1812 fighting for the America and the British.  He is internationally known as an expert of African American history on the Chesapeake Bay and frequently featured on NPR addressing various aspects of their contributions.

For over forty-five years, Leggett, an eloquent man with a contagious laughter, has held public positions with Anne Arundel and Baltimore City Public Schools, Anne Arundel Community College, the Anne Arundel County Housing Commission, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  He is currently employed as the Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis.

Mr. Leggett is proud to say that Annapolis is his home.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and community development from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in public from Central Michigan University.

Mr. Leggett is married to Aldena L. Pinkney and collectively they have four adult sons and one daughter. The Leggett family attends Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Lothian, MD., where Vince serves as Lay Minister.