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Liberty native earns Ph.D. from Howard
0523 LIFE Bell grad
Dr. Felicia A. Bell - photo by Photo provided.
Dr. Felicia A. Bell graduated on May 8 from Howard University in Washington, D.C., with a doctorate in U.S. history.
Bell, a 1993 graduate of Bradwell Institute, is the daughter of Andre’a and Jackie Bell and the sister of Andre’a Bell II.
The student earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Savannah State University in 1998, and a master’s in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2002. SCAD named Bell the inaugural recipient of the Most Promising Alumni Award in 2008.
Bell’s research for her doctorate dissertation, titled “The negroes alone work: Enslaved craftsmen, the building trades, and the construction of the United States Capitol, 1790-1800,” garnered attention from lawmakers. In November 2007, she testified before the United States House Committee on House Administration about the use of enslaved and free black labor to build the United States Capitol. Her testimony, along with that of others, resulted in legislation to name the Capitol Visitor Center’s great hall “Emancipation Hall.” The House and Senate passed the bill, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in December 2007.
Since 2003, Bell has been invited to present research on historical topics nationally and abroad. She has been recognized by the Senate Black Legislative Caucus and the George Washington University Law School. Bell has appeared on media outlets including C-SPAN, CNN and Voice of America.
She currently is the director of education and outreach at the United States Capitol Historical Society. She organizes educational programs such as college courses, teacher workshops, youth leadership forums, and symposiums to promote and preserve the history of the Capitol and Congress.
The society’s newest traveling exhibit, “From freedom’s shadow: African Americans and the United States Capitol,” is Bell’s curatorial debut. It is a survey of the black experience at the Capitol from the enslaved and free black labor used to construct the building to the current African American members of Congress.
Before moving to Washington, Bell was the director of education and programs at the Coastal Heritage Society in Savannah.
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