September 21st Grand Opening of the Huck Finn Freedom Center; Jim's Journey was a huge success as we welcomed nearly 200 visitors to the Program and tours of the museum.  The Program included special guest, Larry McCarty, descendent of Daniel Quarles -prototype for Jim of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Huck Finn Freedom Center; Jim's Journey

 Press Release
For Immediate Release 

Move Over Tom and Becky: Jim, Huck Finn’s Friend and Companion, Finds a Home in Mark Twain’s Hometown
Hannibal has long been home to everything Twain, real and fictional - Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum, the Tom and Huck Statue, the Becky Thatcher House, the Huck Finn Home,  the Mark Twain Cave and the Injun Joe Campground – but there’s been no memorial to Jim until now.

Hannibal, Missouri (August 1, 2013) - Ever wondered about Jim from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?  Ever wondered about his wife, Sadie Watson and children, Elizabeth and Johnny? A new museum in Hannibal, Missouri, The Huck Finn Freedom Center: Jim’s Journey, documents the life of Daniel Quarles (Jim), Mark Twain’s famous slave character and portrays how he and African Americans lived as slaves and as a free people after emancipation in 19th century Hannibal, Missouri.

Hannibal has long been home to everything Twain, real and fictional - Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum, the Tom and Huck Statue, the Becky Thatcher House, the Huck Finn Home,  the Mark Twain Cave and the Injun Joe Campground – but there’s been no memorial to Jim until now.

As literary experts are taking another look at the portrayal of African Americans in the works of Mark Twain they are discovering how he used satire and humor to create characters of dignity, intellect, and inspiration. You will learn why Samuel Clemens, the humanitarian, has been referred to as the “Lincoln of our Literature” (William Dean Howells).  Jim, in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is the first African American character in fiction written by a white person portrayed as a full-fledged human being, no longer a fixture but a man, a husband, a father, NOT INVISIBLE.  According to Samuel Clemens autobiography, Jim is based on Daniel Quarles, a slave young Samuel Clemens knew and admired on his uncle’s farm in Florida, Missouri.  “We had a faithful and affectionate good friend, ally and advisor in “Uncle Dan’l”, a middle-aged slave whose head was the best one in the Negro quarter, whose sympathies were wide and warm whose heart was honest and simple and knew no guile.  He has served me well these many, many years.  I have not seen him for more than half a century and yet spiritually I have had his welcome company a good part of the time and have staged him in books under his own name and as ’Jim’ and carted him all around - to Hannibal, down the Mississippi on a raft and even across the Desert of Sahara in a balloon - and he has endured it all with the patience, friendliness and loyalty which were his birthright.”  We’ve now created a place where residents and visitors will learn why they no longer need to feel embarrassed for Jim.
The museum also features Samuel Clemens’humanitarian and social justice commentary and the African Americans who impacted his life and works. You will learn about Warner T. McGuinn, Charles Ethan Porter and A.W. Jones, three African Americans singled out by Samuel Clemens as being hampered by racial prejudice and worthy of assistance to reach their human potential. Clemens encountered Warner McGuinn in New Haven, Connecticut working one of many jobs to put himself through Yale Law School. Although faced with grinding poverty, he had won a prize for oratory and was president of the Law Club. Clemens wrote a letter to the Dean of Law at Yale. This McGuinn letter is particularly significant because it is the only non-ironic condemnation of racism that we have from Twain, in his own words, from the period during which he published Huck Finn. Clemens' words, in the letter were“I do not believe I would very cheerfully help a white student who would ask a benevolence of a stranger, but I do not feel so about the other color. We have ground the manhood out of them, & the shame is ours, not theirs, & we should pay for it” (to Francis Wayland, 24 December, 1885).   

Clemens also subsidized Charles E. Porter, one of the finest still-life artists in 19th century America and the first African American admitted into the National Academy of Design in New York.  Porter opened a studio in Hartford in 1878 and three years later was admitted to the Ecole des Arts Decortiff in Paris with an introductory letter from Clemens.  A.W. Jones, a black theology student and recipient of financial assistance from Clemens was able to attend Lincoln University because of his help. These are just three of the many instances of Clemens advocacy and efforts to help African Americans and expose the ill effects of racial prejudice and practices in America.    
You will not want to miss this opportunity to visit the Huck Finn Freedom Center and learn about Samuel Clemens insightful commentary on race and social issues, and the contributions African Americans have made to Hannibal throughout its history.

The center opened June 19th and will be open through October 31st, 2013, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and by appointment.  A special Grand Opening of the Huck Finn Freedom Center; Jim’s Journey will be held from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on September 21st.   Residents and visitors are cordially invited to  join the festivities which will  highlight speakers who are descendants of many of Hannibal’s most notable African Americans and a well-researched documentary on  the evolution of Samuel Clemens’ thoughts on the status of the characters he knew and wrote about.  Complimented by food and other entertainment - hope to see you there!

This project is being sponsored by the Hannibal African American Life and History Project, a local non-profit organization founded by Faye Dant in 2011. Community donations and a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) made it all possible.  We hope this will be one of your first stops when you arrive in Hannibal. The Huck Finn Freedom Center is located in the Mark Twain Historic District in The Old Welshman’s House, one of Hannibal’s oldest standing structures built in 1839. The one-room stone building, most likely built by Hannibal slaves, belongs to the City of Hannibal was rescued from demolition by the Marion County Historical Society.  The building is especially significant because it was used to store ammunition for Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Address is 509 N. 3rd Street (right next to the Hannibal Visitors and Convention Bureau), Hannibal, Missouri.

 Contact & Media Visits  
Hannibal African American Life And History Project
509 N. 3rd Street, Hannibal, MO 63401

Media Contact: Faye Dant
Phone: (217) 617-1507


HAALHP soon to celebrate One Year Anniversary

This time last year we were working very hard to make the Hannibal AfricanAmerican Life and History Project (HAALHP) a reality.  Our September 10th Grand Opening was a tremendous success; we were able to shine a spotlight on the long overduehistory of Hannibal’s African American community. The Exhibit has been enjoyedby hundreds of visitors whocommented on the historical significance of the African American community toHannibal’s past which inspire us to look for ways to make this Exhibit apermanent part of Hannibal’s cultural experience.

We plan to expand the Exhibit and to integrate many prominent African American characters from Samuel Clemens’ writings with Hannibal’s history, particularly Jim in Huckleberry Finn.  We hope to explore the role literature played in the fight against racism and the place humor and satire can play in the movement for social justice.  We will examine the post emancipation journey of Jimmy, Daniel Quarles, John Louis, George Guinn and others who went into the creation of Jim. 

As with many of Hannibal’s slaves - Daniel Quarles' life and the life of his children and grandchildren can easily be documented and explored.  We learned that he was emancipated in 1855and from 1873 until his death in 1894 – he lived in Hannibal - their Family Home at 2120 Gordon Street still stands. 

Please celebrate this milestone with us and show your support for its future with your financial donation, donations are tax deductible as our 501(c)3 partner the Northeast Missouri Community Foundation will provide tax letters.  Your gift will make it possible for tourists, visitors and residents to continue to experience the contributions of Hannibal’s AfricanAmerican legacy to “America’s Hometown.”

Many thanks to you for your support - feel free to call me at 217-617-1507 with your questions.

Celebrate Juneteenth -- June 19, 2012


What better way to celebrate African American freedom and family than with a community-wide Juneteenth celebration! Events are planned throughout the week, culminating with an old-fashioned family picnic on Saturday, June 23, 2012 featuring music, barbeque, soul food favorites and activities for all ages. Vendor spaces are available for food service, music or other entertainment, and retail/souvenir tents (small donation fee for space, bring your own tent).

FIRST Planning Meeting

Saturday, March 3rd at 3:00pm
Hannibal History Museum
217 N. Main Street, downtown Hannibal

For more information, stop by the Museum or call Faye Dant at (217) 617-1507.

Come one!! Come All!!

Our First HAALHP Fundraiser

The first annual HAALHP Holiday Gospel Concert was held on December 17, 2011 at the Roland Fine Arts Center, Hannibal-LaGrange University. The concert was a great success with more than 15 performances and 150+ attendees. Ticket sales and silent auction baskets raised money for the HAALHP and door prizes were also drawn.

September 10, 2011 -- America's Hometown Opens Hannibal African American History Exhibit

What a great day! There were nearly 200 visitors to see this new Exhibit at the Hannibal History Museum. There was food and drink and local entertainment present for the Grand Opening on Saturday, September 10th.

Also present was Reverend Wesley Foster of 8th and Center Street Baptist Church to bless the Exhibit as well as Missouri Representative Lindell Shumake to offer his good wishes.

There were representatives from other civic and community organizations -- too many to mention.

Receiving a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council made it possible to document the seldom seen and often forgotten part of the history of Hannibal. The Hannibal African American Life and History Project board of directors was present and it was obvious that a tremendous amount of work went into creating the exhibit depicting the life and history of African Americans in Hannibal from slavery to the early 1960s -- all on loan or donated by residents and former residents of the community.

As people poured into the Museum, they were introduced to Ken and Lisa Marks, who as curators of the Hannibal History Museum had invited HAALHP to use part of their facility for this exhibit.

August, 2011

In August of 2011, Faye Dant and the board of directors of the Hannibal African American Life and History Project launched the construction of the HAALHP exhibit at the Hannibal History Museum. With the donation of space by Ken and Lisa Marks, curators of the Hannibal History Museum, and a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council, the exhibit was prepared for its scheduled September, 2011 opening.