Victoria E. Bynum, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of History
Texas State University, San Marcos
Some time ago, in response to my 10 November 2011 post, “Free People of Color in Old Virginia: The Morris Family of Gloucester County,” (which I encourage you to read or reread) I received a long email message from Nathan Crowell, who traces his own mixed-heritage ancestry back to Gloucester County. Nathan shared not only his family research with me, but also certain insights that he gained over the years from listening to his ancestors—particularly his grandmother: insights into what it meant to be a “free person of color” in a slaveholding society, what it meant to be defined as “black” when one’s skin was fair. His remarks remind us that life in the Old South was far more complex than most of us realize, and that “race” was an imposed category of human existence that had no rational biological basis, but had very real legal, social, and psychological consequences that shaped the experiences and consciousness of all members of society.
With Nathan’s permission, I have created the following post from his remarks…
Read the entire article here.Tags: Gloucester County, Nathan Crowell, Renegade South, Renegade South: Histories of Unconventional Southerners, Victoria Bynum, Victoria E. Bynum