Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2018-05-20 00:37Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Simon & Schuster
2018-10-02
864 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781416590316

David W. Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University

The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight’s Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves.

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A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-05-18 19:48Z by Steven

A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

Yale University Press
2018-08-28
352 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
25 b/w illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300225556

Brooke N. Newman, Associate Professor of History; Associate Director of the Humanities Research Center
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Focusing on Jamaica, Britain’s most valuable colony in the Americas by the mid-eighteenth century, Brooke Newman explores the relationship between racial classifications and the inherited rights and privileges associated with British subject status. Weaving together a diverse range of sources, she shows how colonial racial ideologies rooted in fictions of blood ancestry at once justified permanent, hereditary slavery for Africans and barred members of certain marginalized groups from laying claim to British liberties on the basis of hereditary status.

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Enterprising Women: Gender, Race, and Power in the Revolutionary Atlantic

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United Kingdom, Women on 2018-04-29 20:41Z by Steven

Enterprising Women: Gender, Race, and Power in the Revolutionary Atlantic

University of Georgia Press
2015-01-15
240 pages
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-4455-3
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8203-5387-6

Kit Candlin, Lecturer
School of Humanities and Social Science
The University of Newcastle, Australia

Cassandra Pybus, Professor of History
University of Sydney

Recovered histories of entrepreneurial women of color from the Caribbean

In the Caribbean colony of Grenada in 1797, Dorothy Thomas signed the manumission documents for her elderly slave Betty. Thomas owned dozens of slaves and was well on her way to amassing the fortune that would make her the richest black resident in the nearby colony of Demerara. What made the transaction notable was that Betty was Dorothy Thomas’s mother and that fifteen years earlier Dorothy had purchased her own freedom and that of her children. Although she was just one remove from bondage, Dorothy Thomas managed to become so rich and powerful that she was known as the Queen of Demerara.

Dorothy Thomas’s story is but one of the remarkable acounts of pluck and courage recovered in Enterprising Women. As the microbiographies in this book reveal, free women of color in Britain’s Caribbean colonies were not merely the dependent concubines of the white male elite, as is commonly assumed. In the capricious world of the slave colonies during the age of revolutions, some of them were able to rise to dizzying heights of success. These highly entrepreneurial women exercised remarkable mobility and developed extensive commercial and kinship connections in the metropolitan heart of empire while raising well-educated children who were able to penetrate deep into British life.

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The real history behind Mary Ellen Pleasant, San Francisco’s “voodoo queen”

Posted in Articles, Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States, Women on 2018-04-24 02:04Z by Steven

The real history behind Mary Ellen Pleasant, San Francisco’s “voodoo queen”

KALW Local Public Radio, 91.7 FM
San Francisco, California
2015-09-09

Olivia Cueva & Liza Veale


Performer Susheel Bibbs poses in front of an image of Mary Ellen Pleasant.
Photograph by Olivia Cueva

In the mid-1800s, boomtown San Francisco was a city of men — only about 15 percent women. While slavery was illegal in California, white men were the ones cashing out on the boom. Mostly.

Then there was Mary Ellen Pleasant. She was one of the richest and most powerful people in the state — and she was a black woman. In fact she was a freedom fighter; her nickname was “Black City Hall.”

Yet today, Pleasant is barely remembered. The story that does get told is a mythologized tale about San Francisco’s so-called “voodoo queen.”

Why did this extraordinary woman fall from the city’s graces, left to haunt its history as the voodoo queen? We start at the last stop on a city tour called the San Francisco Ghost Hunt.

The tour brings you to the corner of Octavia and Bush streets, where Mary Ellen Pleasant’s mansion once stood. Six huge eucalyptus trees tower above the spot. Pleasant planted them herself over a hundred years ago.

Jim Fassbinder guides the tour. He tells a tale that he admits is not quite fact, not quite fiction.

He says Pleasant had power over San Franciscans because she practiced “voodoo.” He says some claim she was responsible for the death of four people, including her longtime business partner. Rumor has it her servant “found Mary Ellen pulling apart the bones of his head and picking out bits of his brain,” says Fassbinder.

As the story goes, she’s haunted this corner ever since the day she died. But the story’s been mangled by history. What really happened?

“It still is a mystery,” says Susheel Bibbs, “Her life is still a mystery.”

Bibbs has been studying Pleasant for over 20 years. She says part of the reason it’s so hard to distinguish fact from fiction is because Pleasant herself never kept her story straight.

“It was ingrained from the very beginning that survival meant that you don’t tell. You just keep secrets,” Bibbs says.

By best accounts, Pleasant was born on a plantation in Georgia. Once she was freed as a young girl, she began falsifying her identity. Slavery was still alive and well, so she needed to protect herself from law enforcement.

“If they decided she was an escaped slave and she had no freedom papers, they could just wrest her off the streets and back into slavery,” Bibbs says.

Her skin was fair enough to pass, so when she docked in San Francisco in 1852, she arrived as a white woman

Read entire story here. Listen to the story (00:08:37) here.

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Dear Grandpa Massa: An Open Letter to my White Ancestor for Confederate Memorial Day

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-04-24 01:44Z by Steven

Dear Grandpa Massa: An Open Letter to my White Ancestor for Confederate Memorial Day

Afroculinaria: Exploring Culinary Traditions of Africa, African America and the African Diaspora
2018-04-23

Michael W. Twitty, African American-Jewish Culinary Historian and Author

To: Captain Richard Henry Bellamy—
From: Your Descendant, Mr. Michael W. Twitty, a published author
Date: 4/23/2018, Confederate Memorial Day
Subject: Times Have Changed

You are my third great grandfather. You are white. Because of you and several others I am Viking, I am Celt, I am a melting pot of western, northern, southern and eastern Europe. But I am still Black, your society made those rules, not mine, but its okay because I’m proud to be Black no matter how you intended it to work against my favor. And despite you, I am Asante, Serer, Fula, Mandinka, Yoruba, Igbo, Kongo and Malagasy.

You and your father William held in bondage my great great great grandmother Arrye and her sons—one of her sons married your daughter a girl child born to a teenage girl you took advantage of from the nearby Chadwick plantation.

You were a deadbeat dad; what’s worse is that there were thousands like you that led to millions like me. Thanks to the miracle of DNA research, oral history has been confirmed sans Maury–you are the father…

Read the entire letter here.

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Portugal confronts its slave trade past

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery on 2018-04-23 23:05Z by Steven

Portugal confronts its slave trade past

Politico
2018-02-06

Paul Ames


Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Goree Island in April 2017 Moussa Sow/AFP via Getty Images

Planned monument in Lisbon sparks debate over race and history.

LISBON — Over five centuries after it launched the Atlantic slave trade, Portugal is preparing to build a memorial to the millions of Africans its ships carried into bondage.

Citizens of Lisbon voted in December for the monument to be built on a quayside where slave ships once unloaded. Yet although the memorial has broad support, a divisive debate has ignited over how Portugal faces up to its colonial past and multiracial present.

“Doing this will be really good for our city,” said Beatriz Gomes Dias, president of Djass, an association of Afro-Portuguese citizens that launched the memorial plan.

“People really got behind the project, there was a recognition that something like this is needed,” said Gomes Dias. “Many people told us this is important to bring justice to Portugal’s history here in Lisbon, which is a cosmopolitan and diverse capital with such a strong African presence.”…

Country of tolerance

Few Portuguese miss their imperial regime. Four decades on, no political force clings to colonial nostalgia. Yet a belief lingers that Portuguese colonialism was gentler than other European empires, marked by a tolerant interaction with other peoples and widespread racial mixing.

That tolerance, the narrative goes, is reflected in today’s Portugal.

Unlike just about everywhere else in Europe, there’s no significant far-right party spouting xenophobic populism; during Europe’s refugee crisis, a parliamentary consensus backed doubling the country’s refugee quota; in 2015, Portugal quietly voted in António Costa, whose father was Indian, as prime minister…

Read the entire article here.

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Q&A with Daniel Livesay, author of Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-04-20 20:40Z by Steven

Q&A with Daniel Livesay, author of Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History
2018-04-20

Christopher Jones, Visiting Assistant Professor of History
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah


Daniel Livesay

Daniel Livesay is Associate Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA. His research focuses on questions of race, slavery, and family in the colonial Atlantic World. His first book, Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 was published in January 2018 by the University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute. Casey Schmitt reviewed it yesterday here at The Junto. Daniel’s research has been supported by an NEH postdoctoral fellowship at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, the Fulbright Foundation, the Institute of Historical Research, and the North American Conference on British Studies, as well as number of short-term fellowships. He is currently working on a book manuscript about enslaved individuals of advanced age in Virginia and Jamaica from 1776-1865 entitled, Endless Bondage: Old Age in New World Slavery. He graciously agreed to sit down and answer a few questions about his research.

JUNTO: Congratulations on the publication of your book, and thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about it for readers of The Junto. Let’s start with a broad question: Where did the idea for this book begin?

DANIEL LIVESAY: First off, thanks for inviting me to The Junto. I really enjoy the site, and I’m very excited to be part of it.

The idea for the book effectively landed at my feet. When I started graduate school at the University of Michigan in 2003, the Clements Library—which, as many readers know, is a stellar manuscripts archive at the University—had just purchased the papers of John Tailyour, who was a slave trader in Jamaica at the end of the eighteenth century. The library needed someone to do an initial catalog of the collection, and since I was interested in the history of slavery, I spent several months working through the papers. The collection is really a jewel of economic history because Tailyour took up so much space writing about slave trading in Kingston. But the thing I became obsessed with were his letters back to family in Britain. In particular, he was asking if his relatives could find boarding schools in England for his four mixed-race children whom he had with an enslaved woman named Polly Graham. I had certainly heard of white men manumitting their children, but I had never heard of those same men sending their offspring of color to expensive institutions in Britain. It seemed like a strange level of parental responsibility from a man who also sold thousands of Africans without the slightest hesitation. I felt that I had to know more about the motivations behind this, what the experiences of these migrants were, and what all of it meant for conceptions of race in the Atlantic World. So, I decided to write a graduate seminar paper on the Tailyour family. I went to Britain for a couple of months, found a few stray references to other migrants of color, but ultimately grew worried that it would be almost impossible to find more families who undertook the journey. I finished the seminar paper, and then put it all away thinking that I would need to find another project for my dissertation…

Read the entire interview here.

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Review: Atlantic Families, Race, and Empire

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-04-20 00:53Z by Steven

Review: Atlantic Families, Race, and Empire

The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History
2018-04-19

Casey Schmitt, Ph.D. Candidate in early American history
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

Daniel Livesay, Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2018).

A central thread running through Daniel Livesay’s Children of Uncertain Fortune is deceptively simple: Atlantic families structured the development of ideologies surrounding race in the British empire during the long eighteenth century.1 Woven through the book, however, is a richly nuanced exploration of what terms like Atlantic, family, race, and empire meant and how understandings of those terms changed over a pivotal hundred-year period starting in the 1730s. Through institutional records and family papers produced on both sides of the Atlantic, Livesay identifies 360 mixed-race people from Jamaica and traces the lived experiences of a handful of them as they navigated their social and economic position within transatlantic kin networks. Those individual narratives reveal how Britons experienced empire through family ties in ways that shaped their perceptions of race, colonialism, and belonging…

Read the entire review here.

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Slavery Unseen: Sex, Power, and Violence in Brazilian History

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2018-04-10 02:50Z by Steven

Slavery Unseen: Sex, Power, and Violence in Brazilian History

Duke University Press
2018-04-06
272 pages
9 illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-7116-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-7129-8

Lamonte Aidoo, Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Romance Studies
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

In Slavery Unseen, Lamonte Aidoo upends the narrative of Brazil as a racial democracy, showing how the myth of racial democracy elides the history of sexual violence, patriarchal terror, and exploitation of slaves. Drawing on sources ranging from inquisition trial documents to travel accounts and literature, Aidoo demonstrates how interracial and same-sex sexual violence operated as a key mechanism of the production and perpetuation of slavery as well as racial and gender inequality. The myth of racial democracy, Aidoo contends, does not stem from or reflect racial progress; rather, it is an antiblack apparatus that upholds and protects the heteronormative white patriarchy throughout Brazil’s past and on into the present.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. Secrets, Silences, and Sexual Erasures in Brazilian Slavery and History
  • 1. The Racial and Sexual Paradoxes of Brazilian Slavery and National Identity
  • 2. Illegible Violence: The Rape and Sexual Abuse of Male Slaves
  • 3. The White Mistress and the Slave Woman: Seduction, Violence, and Exploitation
  • 4. Social Whiteness: Black Intraracial Violence and the Boundaries of Black Freedom
  • 5. O Diabo Preto (The Negro Devil): The Myth of the Black Homosexual Predator in the Age of Social Hygiene
  • Afterword. Seeing the Unseen: The Life and Afterlives of Ch/Xica da Silva
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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People of Mixed Ancestry in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake: Freedom, Bondage, and the Rise of Hypodescent Ideology

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2018-04-05 02:58Z by Steven

People of Mixed Ancestry in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake: Freedom, Bondage, and the Rise of Hypodescent Ideology

Journal of Social History
Published: 2017-10-17
DOI: 10.1093/jsh/shx113

A. B. Wilkinson, Assistant Professor of History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

This article examines the origins of mixed-race ideologies and people of mixed African, European, and Native American ancestry—commonly identified as mulattoes—in the seventeenth-century English colonial Chesapeake and wider Atlantic world. Arguably, for the better part of the century, English colonial societies in the Chesapeake resembled Latin America and other Atlantic island colonies in allowing a relatively flexible social hierarchy, in which certain mixed-heritage people benefitted from their European lineage. Chesapeake authorities began to slowly set their provinces apart from their English colonial counterparts in the 1660s, when they enacted laws to deter intimate intermixture between Europeans and other ethnoracial groups and set policies that punished mixed-heritage children. Colonial officials attempted to use the legal system to restrict people of mixed ancestry, Africans, and Native Americans in bondage. These efforts supported the ideology of hypodescent, where children of mixed lineage are relegated more closely to the position of their socially inferior parentage. However, from the 1660s through the 1680s, these laws were unevenly enforced, and mixture increased with the growth of African slaves imported into the region. While many mulattoes were enslaved during this period, others were able to rely on their European heritage or racial whiteness. This allowed them to gain or maintain freedom for themselves and their families, before Virginia and Maryland institutionalized greater restrictions in the 1690s.

Read or purchase the article here.

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