The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will continue its celebration of Black History Month with a lecture by Dr. Connie Park Rice entitled “Nothing but Freedom: Abolition, Emancipation, and the Underground Railroad in Western Virginia” on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The evening will begin at 6 p.m., with a reception in the Great Hall and move into the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at 7 p.m., for the lecture. The reception and lecture are free and open to the public.

“Nothing but Freedom” examines the pathways to and the concepts of freedom in western Virginia. Deeply divided over the issue of slavery, mountaineers had varying concepts of freedom. “For many western Virginians, legal freedom was not intended to create conditions of legal equality, or equality of citizenship and even when the chains of slavery were removed, the hands of freedmen continued to be bound by the law and by racial prejudice,” says Rice.

Rice, a Morgantown native, earned a Ph.D. from West Virginia University (WVU) in Appalachian Regional History. A lecturer in the history department at WVU, she focuses on African American and Appalachian regional history. Rice also is currently the assistant editor of West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies. In addition, she serves as a member of the Governor’s West Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.

For more information about Rice’s lecture and Black History Month programming, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.