What is Racial Passing?

Posted in Economics, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Slavery, United States, Videos on 2019-03-03 03:59Z by Steven

What is Racial Passing?

Digital Studios: Origin of Everything
PBS Digital Studios
Public Broadcasting Service
Season 2, Episode 13 (First Aired: 2019-02-27)

Danielle Bainbridge, Host, Writer, and Postdoctoral Fellow
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

What motivates someone to disguise their race, gender, religion, etc.? Today Danielle explores the complicated history of passing in the United States.

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Shades of Complexity: A History of Racial Passing

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-01-25 03:54Z by Steven

Shades of Complexity: A History of Racial Passing

Literature and Digital Diversity
Department of English
Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
2017-12-11

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Professor of English

Sarah Connell, Assistant Director, Women Writers Project

This archival exhibit was created by Vanessa Gregorchik in Literature and Digital Diversity, fall 2017.

Introduction

On the surface, race appears as a simple category to quantify—the color of one’s skin, the box one circles on the census, even the percentage that appears on an at-home DNA testing kit. But the reality of one’s racial identity is hardly objective. This archive outlines the stories of individuals who chose to “pass” as a different race, or as a portion of their racial background, often in pursuit of societal advancement that their given race prevented them from obtaining. The decision to accept or deny any aspect of one’s identity is a complex and difficult decision, and this collection aims to educate the public on those challenges and intricacies faced by those of multiracial backgrounds in both the era of segregation and today.

Organization

This archive is structured around the environments and dominant factors in each individual’s decision to pass—including emancipation, education, and employment. This division is not intended to claim that these are the sole or even intentional reasons to racially pass, but rather to thematically organize stories that share similar domains. To best tell the narrative of both the individuals and the broader social climate they lived in, I collected individual and family portraits, illustrations, and newspaper clippings. I aimed to represent both the singular person and the communities they were joining or leaving…

Read this entire digital archive here.

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Passing for White

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2017-07-26 15:48Z by Steven

Passing for White

Barrington Stoke
2017-05-11
112 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78112-681-3

Tanya Landman

She must pose as a master to make herself free.

It’s 1848 in the Deep South of America. Rosa is a slave but her owner is also her father and her fair skin means she can ‘pass for white’. With the help of Benjamin, her husband, she disguises herself as a young white man – and Benjamin’s master. In this guise, the two of them must make their way out of the South, avoiding those they have encountered before and holding their nerve over a thousand miles to freedom.

Inspired by the amazing true story of Ellen and William Craft, this is a powerful tale of danger, injustice and unimaginable courage.

Information for Adults: This book has a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paperstock so that even more readers can enjoy it. It has been edited to a reading age of 8.

It features a removable ‘super-readable’ sticker.

Read the first chapter here.

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Love, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery: William and Ellen Craft in Cultural Memory

Posted in Biography, Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2015-01-15 02:11Z by Steven

Love, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery: William and Ellen Craft in Cultural Memory

University of Georgia Press
2015-05-15
136 pages
8 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-3802-6
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8203-4724-0
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8203-4832-2

Barbara McCaskill, Associate Professor of English and co-director of the Civil Rights Digital Library
University of Georgia

How William and Ellen Craft’s escape from slavery, their activism, and press accounts figured during the antislavery movement of the mid-1800s and Reconstruction

he spectacular 1848 escape of William and Ellen Craft (1824–1900; 1826–1891) from slavery in Macon, Georgia, is a dramatic story in the annals of American history. Ellen, who could pass for white, disguised herself as a gentleman slaveholder; William accompanied her as his “master’s” devoted slave valet; both traveled openly by train, steamship, and carriage to arrive in free Philadelphia on Christmas Day. In Love, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery, Barbara McCaskill revisits this dual escape and examines the collaborations and partnerships that characterized the Crafts’ activism for the next thirty years: in Boston, where they were on the run again after the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law; in England; and in Reconstruction-era Georgia. McCaskill also provides a close reading of the Crafts’ only book, their memoir, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, published in 1860.

Yet as this study of key moments in the Crafts’ public lives argues, the early print archive—newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets, legal documents—fills gaps in their story by providing insight into how they navigated the challenges of freedom as reformers and educators, and it discloses the transatlantic British and American audiences’ changing reactions to them. By discussing such events as the 1878 court case that placed William’s character and reputation on trial, this book also invites readers to reconsider the Crafts’ triumphal story as one that is messy, unresolved, and bittersweet. An important episode in African American literature, history, and culture, this will be essential reading for teachers and students of the slave narrative genre and the transatlantic antislavery movement and for researchers investigating early American print culture.

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The Long Walk to Freedom: Runaway Slave Narratives

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States, Women on 2012-10-25 17:29Z by Steven

The Long Walk to Freedom: Runaway Slave Narratives

Beacon Press
2012-08-21
288 pages
6″ x 9″
Cloth ISBN: 978-080706912-7

Devon W. Carbado, Professor of Law and African American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Donald Weise, Independent Scholar in African American history

The first book about the runaway slave phenomenon written by fugitive slaves themselves.

In this groundbreaking compilation of first-person accounts of the runaway slave phenomenon, editors Devon W. Carbado and Donald Weise have recovered twelve narratives spanning eight decades-more than half of which have been long out of print. Told in the voices of the runaway slaves themselves, these narratives reveal the extraordinary and often innovative ways that these men and women sought freedom and demanded citizenship. Also included is an essay by UCLA history professor Brenda Stevenson that contextualizes these narratives, providing a brief yet comprehensive history of slavery, as well as a look into the daily life of a slave. Divided into four categories-running away for family, running inspired by religion, running by any means necessary, and running to be free-these stories are a testament to the indelible spirit of these remarkable survivors.

The Long Walk to Freedom presents excerpts from the narratives of well-known runaway slaves, like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, as well as from the narratives of lesser-known and virtually unknown people. Several of these excerpts have not been published for more than a hundred years. But they all portray the courageous and sometimes shocking ways that these men and women sought their freedom and asserted power, often challenging many of the common assumptions about slaves’ lack of agency.

Among the remarkable and inspiring stories is the tense but triumphant tale of Henry Box Brown, who, with a white abolitionist’s help, shipped himself in a box-over a twenty-seven-hour train ride, part of which he spent standing on his head-to freedom in Philadelphia. And there’s the story of William and Ellen Craft, who fled across thousands of miles, with Ellen, who was light-skinned, disguised as a white male slave-owner so she and her husband could achieve their dream of raising their children as free people.

Gripping, inspiring, and captivating, The Long Walk to Freedom is a remarkable collection that celebrates those who risked their lives in pursuit of basic human rights.

Read the Introduction here.

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Crimes of Performance

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2011-11-02 03:34Z by Steven

Crimes of Performance

Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society
Volume 13, Issue 1 (2011)
Special Issue: Black Critiques of Capital: Radicalism, Resistance, and Visions of Social Justice
pages 29-45
DOI: 10.1080/10999949.2011.551476

Uri McMillan, Assistant Professor of English
University of California, Los Angeles

In this article, I focus on the intersections between discourses of crime and illegality with modes of performance in the multiple impersonations staged by William and Ellen Craft, two married fugitive slaves who escaped from chattel slavery in the United States in 1848 through a complex set of layered performances. I begin illustrating the linkages between crime and performance by tracing the workings of a dynamic I term “fugitive transvestism” in an aesthetic representation of Ellen Craft, specifically an engraving she posed for in 1851 that was later published in The London Illustrated News. In doing so, I not only reveal the engraving as a site where we can witness Craft’s embodied performances, rather than a seemingly static document, but also focus on the crimes of “being” acted by Craft that surface in the engraving itself. In addition, I further reveal the performative and criminal acts committed by Ellen Craft, by later moving to a discussion of prosthetics, focusing attention on the mechanisms of Craft’s escape costume. Prosthetic performances, as I discuss them, were dramatic and tactical strategies employed by the Crafts that continue to reveal the suturing of crime and performance in Ellen Craft’s counterfeit embodiment of her alter-ego, while taking it further into yet another set of unlawful impersonations. Thus, this essay will evince how the Craft’s multiple crimes of performance enabled their mobility across 19th-century spatial sites and representational spheres.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Fugitive Vision: Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2009-12-26 01:18Z by Steven

Fugitive Vision: Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative

Indiana University Press
2007-12-04
272 pages
30 b&w photos, 6.125 x 9.25
ISBN-13: 978-0-253-34944-6
ISBN: 0-253-34944-3

Michael A. Chaney, Associate Professor of English
Dartmouth College

Analyzing the impact of black abolitionist iconography on early black literature and the formation of black identity, Fugitive Vision examines the writings of Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, William and Ellen Craft, Harriet Jacobs, and the slave potter David Drake. Juxtaposing pictorial and literary representations, the book argues that the visual offered an alternative to literacy for current and former slaves, whose works mobilize forms of illustration that subvert dominant representations of slavery by both apologists and abolitionists. From a portrait of Douglass’s mother as Ramses to the incised snatches of proverb and prophesy on Dave the Potter‘s ceramics, the book identifies a “fugitive vision” that reforms our notions of antebellum black identity, literature, and cultural production.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Looking Beyond and Through the Fugitive Icon
  • Part 1. Fugitive Gender: Black Mothers, White Faces, Sanguine Sons
    1. Racing and Erasing the Slave Mother: Frederick Douglass, Parodic Looks, and Ethnographic Illustration
    2. Looking for Slavery at the Crystal Palace: William Wells Brown and the Politics of Exhibition(ism)
    3. The Uses in Seeing: Mobilizing the Portrait in Drag in Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom
  • Part 2. Still Moving: Revamped Technologies of Surveillance
    1. Panoramic Bodies: From Banvard‘s Mississippi to Brown’s Iron Collar
    2. The Mulatta in the Camera: Harriet Jacobs’s Historicist Gazing and Dion Boucicault‘s Mulatta Obscura
    3. Throwing Identity in the Poetry-Pottery of Dave the Potter
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index
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Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom or The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery

Posted in Autobiography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2009-11-08 04:41Z by Steven

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom or The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery

Louisiana State University Press
Originally Published: 1860
Published by LSU Press: 1999
120 pages
Trim: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 5 halftones
ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-2320-1 Paper

William Craft

With a Foreword and Biographical Essay by

Richard J. M. Blackett,  Andrew Jackson Professor of History
Vanderbilt University

Husband and wife William and Ellen Craft’s [her mother was a slave and her father was her mother’s owner.] break from slavery in 1848 was perhaps the most extraordinary in American history. Numerous newspaper reports in the United States and abroad told of how the two—fair-skinned Ellen disguised as a white slave master and William posing as her servant—negotiated heart-pounding brushes with discovery while fleeing Macon, Georgia, for Philadelphia and eventually Boston. No account, though, conveyed the ingenuity, daring, good fortune, and love that characterized their flight for freedom better than the couple’s own version, published in 1860, a remarkable authorial accomplishment only twelve years beyond illiteracy. Now their stirring first-person narrative and Richard Blackett’s excellent interpretive pieces are brought together in one volume to tell the complete story of the Crafts.


Ellen Craft

Summary by Monique Pierce of Documenting The South:

Published in 1860, shortly before the start of the Civil War, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom is the narrative of William and Ellen Craft‘s escape from slavery. Both were born and grew up in Georgia, and they lived in Macon prior to their escape. In December 1848 they devised a plan in which Ellen Craft, who was very light- skinned, would dress as a man and pretend to be a rheumatic seeking better treatment in Philadelphia. William was to accompany her and act as her slave. Relying exclusively on means of public transportation, including trains and steamers, they made their way to Savannah, then to Charleston, Wilmington, North Carolina, Washington, D. C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia, where they arrived on Christmas Day. They then relocated to Boston and sailed for England after the Fugitive Slave Law enabled slave hunters to pursue them even in free states. At the time this work was published, they were living in England with their sons. The narrative includes many anecdotes about slavery and freedom for Blacks and discusses how they were treated in both the South and the North.

Read the entire book in HTML format here.  You may also obtain it here.

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