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The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center hosts discussions on the cultural and scientific significance of Fortune, a slave whose remains were used as a teaching tool by his owner, a doctor.



Host Kojo Nnamdi Engages Audiences in Discussion

August 23, 2011 – College Park, MD – The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center introduces audiences to Fortune, a former slave, in two lively dialogues hosted by veteran host Kojo Nnamdi this fall. Fortune, an African-American captive in the late-1700s, was enslaved by Dr. Preserved Porter, a bonesetter in Waterbury, Connecticut. After Fortune died, Dr. Porter used his skeleton as a teaching tool.

Kojo Nnamdi is host of The Kojo Nnamdi Show, a live talk show produced by WAMU 88.5 that airs weekdays at noon. He is also the host of the Evening Exchange broadcast on WHUT-TV.

Fortune’s Life, His Death, His Story: An Introduction to “Fortune’s Bones”

Monday, September 19th at 7:30 PM

Dr. Ysaye Barnwell, Dr. Marilyn Nelson, Dr. Warren Perry, Marie Galbraith In the first of several events committed to exploring Fortune’s fate through discussion, performance and lectures, four panelists – a poet, a composer, an anthropologist and a museum curator -- bring multiple perspectives to a discussion of Fortune's life and legacy.

A Question of History and Humanity: Who Speaks for Fortune?

Monday, October 10 . 7:30 PM

Dr. Ysaye Barnwell, Maxine Watts What are the questions we must ask about the story of Fortune's bones?
What can we learn from this event in history, from his memory? Participants will hear from the African American History Project of Waterbury, from scientists who examined Fortune's bones and from others as we learn about what Fortune has to teach us still.

Related performance: Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem

February 26, 8PM & February 26, 3PM Poet Marilyn Nelson wrote Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem commemorating Fortune's life through a commission from the African American History Project Committee led by Marie Galbraith from the Mattatuck Museum in Connecticut. Dr. Ysaye Barnwell was commissioned by the Waterbury Symphony to set the poem to music.

A Season of Extraordinary Stories

Throughout its 10th Anniversary Season, the Center has invited artists, patrons, students and community members to share their stories about the life-changing power of the arts. Through them, you will meet intrepid explorers, culture bearers, provocateurs and just plain art nuts. Find out more about what makes them who they are, and how power of the arts has inspired them here.

Tickets to these performances are free. Tickets for other performances can be purchased at or by calling (301) 405-ARTS (2787).


The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. More information on Clarice Smith Center donor support can be found here.