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“Life, Liberty & Happiness” Lecture Series

Life, Liberty, and Happiness: A Panel Discussing the Constitution and Religious Freedom

In partnership please join James Madison’s Montpelier and The Valentine Museum as we explore religious freedom, democracy, and the U.S. Constitution. In this second segment of a three part series, Eola Dance will guide a discussion of faith and practice, equal protection under the law, and our shared responsibility in telling “whole  history.” Distinguished panelist Chief Keith Anderson (Nansemond Indian Nation) will illuminate the long journey to religious freedom for Native American Nations and citizens; joined by Rev. Larry Walker (Montpelier Descendants Committee) we will explore the ways in which faith, perseverance, and spirituality sustained generations of descendants of the enslaved as Piedmont VA “landkin” sharing in connection to this cultural landscape; and we welcome American slavery, law, and religious studies scholar Paul Finkelman (PhD) who will provide depth of insight into the U.S. Constitution and the protection of religious freedom past and present.

Life, Liberty & Happiness: New Perspectives on Founding Ideas is a collaboration between James Madison’s Montpelier and the Valentine First Freedom Center that explores the evolution and contemporary relevance of America’s founding philosophies and highlights scholars whose work contributes to reinterpreting what “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” means today.

Location: James Madison’s Montpelier, David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center, Grand Salon

Montpelier is a memorial to James Madison and the Enslaved Community, a museum of American history, and a center for constitutional education that engages the public with the enduring legacy of Madison’s most powerful idea: government by the people.

The Valentine First Freedom Center is located at the site where the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom was signed in 1786. It celebrates this important history by exploring the past, present and future of freedom of conscience in America.

Meet the Panel

Moderator: Eola Lewis Dance
Eola Lewis Dance has served as a public historian for 22 years with the federal government and in the nonprofit world over the past year. Recently appointed President and CEO of The Montpelier Foundation, Eola’s career work demonstrates a commitment to the preservation of cultural landscapes, historic buildings, and the documentation and interpretation of untold stories essential in telling the “unvarnished truth” of the making of America. A recognized leader in descendant community engagement, Eola has led global, national, and Virginia initiatives exploring topics of freedom, race, gender, and class through research, preservation, and storytelling. Eola received a BA in History from Southern University and A&M College, an MA in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design, and a graduate certificate in Environmental Policy from The George Washington University. Eola is a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University focused on Colonial Slavery and is Co-Founder of Kinfolkology. In her free time, Eola can be found exploring nature trails with her three sons, jogging, doing yoga, or painting.


Keith Anderson, Chief – Nansemond Indian Nation
Keith F. Anderson is an enrolled citizen of the Nansemond Indian Nation and serves as the tribe’s principal chief and executive officer.  As one of seven federally recognized tribes in the Commonwealth, the Nation’s service area includes Suffolk,Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, and Isle of Wight. Prior to his current leadership role, Chief Anderson served as assistant chief and as the Nation’s environmental program coordinator. In this capacity, he cultivated dynamic relationships with local, state and federal officials, strengthening his life-long interest in environmental justice.

Chief Anderson currently serves as co-chair of the VirginiaTribal Education Consortium (VTEC). Founded in 2019, the organization focuses on obtaining educational and vocational opportunities for Virginia’s tribal community and ensuring that indigenous history is accurately and respectfully taught throughout the state’s school systems. Chief Anderson is also utilizing his vast array of skill sets serving as board trustee and tribal liaison for the Fort Monroe Authority, Chesapeake Conservancy, and William and Mary American Indian Studies department.

Chief Anderson has committed the majority of his life in honoring the enduring traditions of American Indians across the globe and is a community leader who is “forged by tradition and thrives in the modern world.” He is an accomplished cultural presenter and the executive director of Red Crooked (Crook-ed) Sky American Indian Dance Troupe. With a core group of family members and friends, Chief Anderson co-founded RCS in 2006. Under his guidance and management, the organization has been featured at nearly 200 venues across the United States and Canada.  Some highlights include: the John F. Kennedy Center, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Strengthening their reputation as dynamic presenters, Chief Anderson and the troupe have been featured in a variety of publications, art works, documentaries, and film projects.

Chief Anderson holds a B.A. in Health Administration and Sports Sciences from the University of Richmond and is pursuing a certification in non-profit management. For over 30 years, Chief Anderson has served as a career parks and recreation professional and high school football coach for the City of Virginia Beach. He currently lives in Portsmouth, Virginia with his two devoted sons – Kameron and Kalen.

Rev. Larry Walker, President – Montpelier Descendants Committee
Reverend Lawrence “Larry” E. Walker is a church pastor and administrator in Columbia, Maryland, particularly focused on youth education and community empowerment. He currently serves as the Deputy Pastor and Chief-of Staff at Celebration Church at Columbia, the largest Black congregation in Howard County, Maryland. He has served in his current role since 2


Rev. Walker’s career has focused on improving the lives of African American residents. Under Rev. Walker’s leadership, Celebration Church has made a tremendous impact on the community. He set up a partnership with the local school system

which provided students with greater access to the extensive programs and support services offered by the church. As the President of the African American Community Roundtable of Howard County, Rev. Walker established the organization as a leading voice in the community. For decades he’s been a leader addressing racial inequalities in education, health, diversity, equity and inclusion, economic opportunities, policing and transportation. He served on the Board of the Community Foundation of Howard County, and on the county Board of Education in 2014. Service to others is at his core, volunteering in several capacities within the community and school system, including President of Parents of African American Students, Co-chair Operating Budget Review Committee, Redistricting Committee and Community Advisory Council.

Rev. Walker has received several awards for his public service and civic involvement, such as the statewide Parent Involvement Matters Award (2008) awarded by a collaboration between Comcast and the Maryland State Department of Education. Larry is a Life Member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and served as the National Director of Sigma Beta Clubs. He received his B.S. in Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services from Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College at Baton Rouge in 1981. He is a proud descendant of Benjamin McDaniel of Montpelier (1790-1875) and serves on the Montpelier Descendants Committee Board of Directors. 

Paul Finkelman, PhD – Marquette University
Paul Finkelman is the Boden Visiting Professor of Law at Marquette Law School. He has previously taught at Duke, LSU, Pittsburgh, and Albany law schools, and held the Fulbright Research Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Ottawa. He received his BA in American studies from Syracuse University, his MA and PhD in U.S. history from the University of Chicago, and was later a fellow in law and humanities at Harvard Law School. 

The Supreme Court of the United States has cited him six times in cases involving religious liberty, affirmative action, and the Bill of Rights.  He has also been cited and quoted by many other state and federal courts.  He is currently writing a book on Freedom of Speech and Civil Rights of Yale University Press.  Harvard University Press published his most recent major book, Supreme Injustice:  Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court.  He has written extensively on James Madison, the Constitutional Convention, the Bill of Rights, and Freedom of Speech and Religion in American history.

He is the author of about two hundred scholarly articles and the author or editor of more than fifty books. He was the John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History at Duke Law School and held the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan. He has taught and lectured in almost every American state, across Canada, and in China, Colombia, France, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Japan, Poland, and the United Kingdom. In 2008 he gave the Nathan I. Huggins Lectures at the W.E.B. DuBois Center for African American Studies at Harvard University. In 2014 he spoke at the United Nations on issues of human trafficking. 

He is an expert in American and world slavery, constitutional law, civil liberties, religious liberty, African American history, American Jewish history, and legal issues surrounding baseball. Professor Finkelman was the chief expert witness in the Alabama Ten Commandments monument case and in the lawsuit over who owned Barry Bonds 73rd home run ball.


Apr 27, 2024


2:00 pm - 3:00 pm




David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center
David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center
11350 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station, VA 22957