Dulatown: Documentary Film Screening and Panel Discussion

The Lunch and Learn Lecture Series features interesting and informative virtual programming that provides a behind-the-scenes view of the festival’s offerings in the visual arts, music, theater and dance.

Dulatown, located in Lenoir, North Carolina, is a community settled in 1855 and populated mostly by African Americans who share a kinship and the last name of Dula. The two branches of the family started in 1846 when a woman named Harriet Harshaw was sold to “Squire” Alfred Dula, who fathered eight of her 12 children. Alfred Dula provided for Harriet and her children through the gifting of land before his death and in his will thus establishing Dulatown. Dulatown embraces its history at a bi-annual reunion where in recent years both Black and white Dula relatives come together around their shared history and genealogy to publicly acknowledge they share more than just a surname. Filmmaker Beth Davison explores this story in this documentary, Dulatown.

Panelists: Beth Davison, filmmaker, Leslie Dula McKesson and Kelly Ervin. Moderated by Shauna Caldwell.

LOCATION: Virtual via YouTube Premier and Zoom

DATE/TIME: Monday, July 19 at Noon

LENGTH OF EVENT: 60 minutes

COST: Event is FREE; registration required

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact the Turchin Center for Visual Arts at turchincenter@appstate.edu or 828-262-3017.

ACCOMMODATION STATEMENT: Appalachian is committed to providing an inclusive experience for individuals with disabilities. If accommodations are needed in order to fully participate on the basis of a disability contact the Office of Disability Resources (828.262.3056). It is recommended that accommodation requests be made two weeks prior to the event.

About the Panelists


Anna Deveare Smith

Dr. Beth Davison is the director, producer and editor of the documentary Dulatown. Dr. Davison is a faculty member in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and Co-Director of University Documentary Film Services. She teaches research methods, statistics and media classes for Interdisciplinary Studies. Her documentary projects, screened internationally, in film festivals and on public television, include The Denim DynastyEva & Moe and Dulatown. The History of the Moses H Cone Estate screens regularly for tourists of the National Park Service’s Cone Manor Theater.

For additional information visit: Appalachian State Departmental Biography or Faculty Profile

View the Dulatown trailer:

Anna Deveare Smith

Dr. Leslie Dula McKesson holds three degrees from Appalachian State University: MA in higher education, Ed.S. in higher education, and ED.D in educational leadership. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Harriet and Alfred were her great-great-grandparents. Dr. McKesson tells her family’s story in the award-winning book Black and White: The Story of Harriet Harshaw and Squire James Alfred Dula. She also narrated the documentary Dulatown.

McKesson was the dean of Business, Public Services and Academic Support at Western Piedmont Community College and has also worked as an adjunct professor of education and leadership at both Lenoir-Rhyne University and Appalachian State University.

For additional information visit: Appalachian State Alumni News

Anna Deveare Smith

Ms. Kelly Ervin is a retired Mathematics Educator from Caldwell County Schools. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Lenoir-Rhyne and her master’s degree in Middle Grades Mathematics from Appalachian State University. She is a great, great granddaughter of Harriet and Alfred Dula. According to Beth Davison, she is a valuable historian of Dulatown and Caldwell County history.

About the Moderator


Anna Deveare Smith
Shauna Caldwell is an artist from Boone, NC. She received BFAs in both studio art and art education. In addition to working as Assistant Director of Arts Education and Outreach for the Turchin Center for Visual Arts and the Office of Arts and Cultural Programs at App State, she is currently pursuing a MA in Appalachian Studies. Her roots in Appalachia and relationship with the environment shape her creative work.