Bench by the Road Stories: The Stories of the Bench by the Road Project

The Tony Morrison Society
  • Carolyn Denard, Founder and Board Chair, The Toni Morrison Society
  • Craig Stutman, Associate Professor of History and Public Policy, Delaware Valley University

Project Description

The Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road Project has placed benches and accompanying plaques at 32 sites around the world memorializing people and events from African American and African diasporic history.  The Society plans to create a digital archive documenting the histories of each of these sites, including audio and video recordings with individuals in the communities where each Bench was placed. These stories will be accompanied by images of the sites and interviews with the representatives of the sponsoring organizations of these Benches who can tell their stories in their own words.  The Stories for All Grant will allow the Society to reconnect with the Bench communities so that the larger public can understand the impetus and the impact of these Bench placements, record the community stories for posterity, and make them easily accessible in a digital format for a global audience.

Partner Details

  • Carolyn Denard

    Founder and Board Chair, The Toni Morrison Society


    Dr. Carolyn Denard is a Toni Morrison Scholar and Founder and Board Chair of the Toni Morrison Society. As Board Chair, she initiated the interdisciplinary Biennial Conference Series of the Toni Morrison Society and was founding director of the Bench by the Road Project. She also served as Regional Director of the NEH-Sponsored Project: Behind the Veil: African American Life in the Jim Crow South. Dr. Denard was a Professor of African American Literature at Georgia State University for fifteen years before serving as Associate Dean at Brown and Emory Universities and as Dean of the College at Connecticut College. Most recently, she served as Associate Provost at Georgia College and State University.  In addition to her work helping to complete the oral histories that will provide context for the 32 Benches placed by the Toni Morrison Society, Dr. Denard is also completing ethnographic study of Toni Morrison’s novels in a book titled, Bearing Witness: A Cultural Study of Toni Morrison’s Novels.

  • Craig Stutman

    Associate Professor of History and Public Policy, Delaware Valley University


    Dr. Craig Stutman is an Associate Professor of History and Public Policy at Delaware Valley University.   Dr. Stutman formerly served as the lead research historian and writer of a National Park Service Context Study examining the history and built-environment of African-Americans in Pennsylvania–a project which was jointly administered by both the African-American Museum in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.  In addition, he currently serves as the Chair of the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road project–a memorial history project that has been marking significant events in the history of the African American Diaspora by placing symbolic benches and plaques at both national and international locations.