AUDIO: Kelley on Michael Brown And Dred Scott | Here & Now

Demonstrators display signs during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas in another night of unrest in a Missouri town where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, just hours after President Barack Obama called for calm. AFP PHOTO / Michael B. Thomas        (Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)

Demonstrators display signs during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas in another night of unrest in a Missouri town where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, just hours after President Barack Obama called for calm. AFP PHOTO / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)


via Here & Now:

There have been violent protests against the police in Ferguson, Missouri, for more than a week, since police shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown.

An African-American professor watching the situation sees a link between what’s happening in Missouri today and what happened in the state in the 1800s when it was at the center of the national debate and divide over slavery.

Blair Kelley, who teaches history at North Carolina State University, finds parallels between Michael Brown and Dred Scott, a slave who sued for his freedom and ultimately lost his case in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857.

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BOOK: Camp on Everyday Resistance in the U.S. South


Stephanie M. H. Camp. Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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Stephanie M. H. Camp (1967-2014)

University of Washington history professor Stephanie M. H. Camp passed away on April 2nd. Camp was the author of Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (University of North Carolina Press, 2004, also profiled on #ADPhD here). Camp also edited, with Edward Baptist, New Studies in the History of Slavery (University of Georgia Press, 2006).

Selections from her obituary in The Seattle Times:

“She was a well-known feminist historian who wrote a groundbreaking book on enslaved women in the antebellum South, and a social-justice activist who dared to take controversial stands. But Stephanie Camp was also known for her love of popular culture and her sense of adventure and for hosting great parties.

The University of Washington history professor died April 2 of cancer at the age of 46.

Professor Camp’s book, “Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South,” which is in its second printing, led to a new understanding of how enslaved women resisted their captivity in the 19th century. It was cited not only for the quality of its scholarship but also for the beauty of the writing.

The book “transformed the field of American social history,” said Chandan Reddy, an associate professor of English at the UW….”

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ESSAY: Foreman on Violence, Citizenship, and Histories of Slavery (2013)


Two years after Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida and weeks after the Michael Dunn verdict, African Diaspora, Ph.D. revisits P. Gabrielle Foreman’s essay on violence, bodies, and black futurity (first published February 27, 2013 at the Black Space):

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DIGITAL/EXHIBIT: “I will be heard!” Abolitionism in America (Cornell U)


From the introduction:

Inspired by conscience and guided by principle, abolitionists took a moral stand against slavery that produced one of America’s greatest victories for democracy. Through decades of strife, and often at the risk of their lives, anti-slavery activists remained steadfast in the face of powerful opposition. Their efforts would ultimately force the issue of slavery to the forefront of national politics, and fuel the split between North and South that would lead the country into civil war.

On display from June 5 through September 27, 2003, “Abolitionism in America” documents our country’s intellectual, moral, and political struggle to achieve freedom for all Americans. Featuring rare books, manuscripts, letters, photographs, and other materials from Cornell’s pre-eminent anti-slavery and Civil War collections, the exhibition explores the complex history of slavery, resistance, and abolition from the 1700s through 1865. The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view some of Cornell Library’s greatest treasures, including a manuscript copy of the Gettysburg Address written by Abraham Lincoln, a manuscript copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, and a copy of the 13th Amendment signed by Lincoln and members of Congress.

Curated by Petrina Jackson and Katherine Reagan. View the exhibit here: “I will be heard!” Abolitionism in America

Image Credits: Featured: Frederick County, Maryland, Court Document. Slave Purchased and Freed by her Mother, 1831. This document alludes to the poignant story of Nancy Richardson, a mother who worked diligently and ultimately purchased freedom for her enslaved daughter, Floria Barnes. This testimony legally certifies that “Floria Barnes a negro woman now before me is the identical negro woman who was heretofore purchased by her mother Nancy Richardson, and who was by the Said Nancy Richardson, manumitted and set free…” Cornell University, Gift of Gail ’56 and Stephen Rudin; Image: Anti-Slavery Tokens, 1838. “These United States issued copper tokens feature Josiah Wedgwood’s famous image of a shackled and kneeling slave, with anti-slavery sentiments on the reverse side.” Cornell University, William P. Stein Memorial Endowment. Both images as seen on “I Will Be Heard.”


VIDEO: Grandin Discusses New Book on Democracy Now!

Historian Greg Grandin appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss his new book The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom and Deception in the New World (Metropolitan Books, 2014)

From Democracy Now!:

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WEB: New Resource – “Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761: A Cartographic Narrative”

Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761

Vincent Brown (Harvard University) unveils a new resource for studying slavery and slave revolt in Jamaica:

via Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761:

This animated thematic map narrates the spatial history of the greatest slave insurrection in the eighteenth century British Empire.  To teachers and researchers, the presentation offers a carefully curated archive of key documentary evidence.  To all viewers, the map suggests an argument about the strategies of the rebels and the tactics of counterinsurgency, about the importance of the landscape to the course of the uprising, and about the difficulty of representing such events cartographically with available sources.  Although this cartographic narration cannot be taken as an exhaustive database—for instance, it does not examine major themes such as belonging and affiliation among the insurgents or the larger imperial context and interconnected Atlantic world— the map offers an illuminating interpretation of the military campaign’s spatial dynamics….

….Mapping the great Jamaican insurrection of 1760-61 allows us to see how the island’s topography shaped the course of the revolt, how the rebellion included at least three major uprisings, and how its suppression required the sequenced collaboration of several distinct elements of British military power.  From the cartographic evidence, it appears that the insurrection was in fact a well-planned affair that posed a genuine strategic threat, checked ultimately by an effective counterinsurgency.  Yet if the map draws a clearer picture of the extent and contours of the insurrection, it cannot convey the ambition, hope, desperation, shock, dread, alarm, cruelty, bloodlust, and sheer mayhem of the experience.  These are matters left to the historical imagination of viewers and readers.

More on Tacky’s Revolt (via Project Description):

In 1760, some fifteen hundred enslaved black men and women— perhaps fewer but probably many more— took advantage of Britain’s Seven Year’s War against France and Spain, to stage a massive uprising in Jamaica, which began on April 7 in the windward parish of St. Mary’s and continued in the leeward parishes until October of the next year.  Over the course of eighteen months the rebels killed as many as sixty whites and destroyed many thousands of pounds worth of property.  During the suppression of the revolt over five hundred black men and women were killed in battle, executed, or committed suicide.  Another 500 were transported from the island for life.  Colonists valued the total cost to the island at nearly a quarter of a million pounds. “Whether we consider the extent and secrecy of its plan, the multitude of the conspirators, and the difficulty of opposing its eruptions in such a variety of places at once,” wrote planter-historian Edward Long in his 1774 History of Jamaica, this revolt was “more formidable than any hitherto known in the West Indies.”[1]

Explore the site here.

Image Credit: “Soulevement des Negres à la Jamaique en 1759, ” as shown in David Francois’ “Histoire d’Angleterre” (Paris, 1800), Vol. 3 .

CD: Drums of Defiance, Maroon Music of Jamaica

Drums of Defiance

Drums of Defiance: Maroon Music from the Earliest Free Black Communities of Jamaica, compiled by Kenneth M. Bilby, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 1992, compact disc.

From the Smithsonian’s website:

Featuring complex, West African influenced drumming and dancing, this little-known rural tradition is at the heart of modern, politically charged reggae music. The conviction heard here reveals a long history of struggle. During the 17th and 18th centuries, some of the Africans brought to Jamaica as slaves escaped to the mountains. There they settled, and over time, they became known as “Maroons.” Today, four major Maroon colonies still exist in Jamaica’s rugged western Cockpit Country and in the eastern Blue Mountains. Some selections on this recording were previously issued in 1981 on Folkways 4027. “..[A]n aural kaleidoscope, presenting small glimpses into the colorful world of the Maroon music of Jamaica.” — Sing Out.

Smithsonian Folkways offers a lesson plan (grades 3-5).  Or browse liner notes here.

ARTICLE: McCaskill on William and Ellen Craft’s ‘Partnership’

Note from Ira Aldridge to Ellen Craft

Barbara McCaskill. “The Profits and the Perils of Partnership in the ‘Thrilling’ Saga of William and Ellen Craft.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 38, no. 1 (March 1, 2013): 76–97.


In October 1937, the historian Carter Godwin Woodson (1875–1950) launched the inaugural issue of the Negro History Bulletin. A teacher of social science and language in the secondary schools of the District of Columbia, Woodson dedicated his career to disseminating knowledge, correcting myths, and presenting accurate analyses of the roles of African Americans in US history. In 1915, he founded the progenitor of today’s Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH), and in February 1926, he initiated Negro History Week, now a month-long celebration (Hine 405-8). His Negro History Bulletin, a monthly publication for students and educators, inserted the voices of black scholars and critics into Jim Crow America’s segregated African American classrooms (Goggin 1-65). The Bulletin debuted with a front page featuring “The Thrilling Escape of William and Ellen Craft,” about the couple’s journey from slavery in Georgia to freedom in New England, which is framed by a triptych of woodcuts by the African American artist Lois Mailou Jones (1905–1998) (“Thrilling” 1, 5). Almost ninety years had passed since the couple’s feisty 1848 flight from Macon, Georgia, when the light-skinned Ellen Craft (1826–1891) had attired herself as a white, Southern, slaveholding gentleman. She and her dark-skinned husband William (1824–1900),1 pretending to be her slave, had slipped out from under what they called captivity’s “iron heel of despotism” (Craft and Craft 10), hiding in plain sight among white, Southern, slaveholding travelers on trains, carriages, and steamers conveying them North. “Persons still living,” wrote this issue of the Bulletin, “speak of the benefits they received from coming under the influence of William and Ellen Craft” (“Thrilling” 5).

Uncertain whether they would ever return to America, the Crafts spent almost twenty years in transatlantic exile—obtaining an education, making a living, nurturing five children, frantically fund-raising to purchase …

BOOK: Girard on the Haitian Revolution

The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon

Philippe R. Girard, The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian War of Independence, 1801-1804. University Alabama Press, 2011.

via University of Alabama Press:

To a contemporary audience, Haiti brings to mind Voodoo spells, Tontons Macoutes, and boat people–nothing worth fighting over. Two centuries ago, however, Haiti, then known as Saint-Domingue, was the “Pearl of the Antilles,” France’s most valuable overseas colony, the largest exporter of tropical products in the world, and the United States’ second most important trading partner after England.
Haiti was also the place where in 1801-1802 Napoléon Bonaparte sent the largest colonial venture of his reign: the Leclerc expedition. His goal was to remove the famous revolutionary Toussaint Louverture from office and, possibly, restore slavery. But within two years, the remnants of Bonaparte’s once-proud army were evacuated in defeated, and Haiti declared its independence. This forgotten yet momentous conflict, in which lives were consumed by the thousands, is this book’s main focus.
In this ambitious monograph, Philippe Girard employs the latest tools of the historian’s craft, multi-archival research in particular, and applies them to the climactic yet poorly understood last years of the Haitian Revolution. Haiti lost most of its archives to neglect and theft, but a substantial number of documents survive in French, U.S., British, and Spanish collections, both public and private. In all, The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon relies on contemporary military, commercial, and administrative sources drawn from nineteen archives and research libraries on both sides of the Atlantic….”