Byrd on Teaching Celia, A Slave in an Age of #BlackLivesMatter

Brandon Byrd writes:

“This semester was no different. Using the primary sources found on Linder’s excellent website, our class broke into groups and dissected the background of the case, the trial, and its aftermath. After putting all of the pieces together, each group tried to identify the significance of the case. They more than succeeded. After the spokespeople for the various groups suggested that the case demonstrated the unique challenges faced and considerable resistance offered by enslaved women, one student, looking downward, murmured four simple words: “black lives didn’t matter.”

Those four words offered by the normally quiet student said it all. The case was about much more than Celia. It was even about much more than an enslaved teenager’s inability to claim the same anti-rape protections afforded to free white women. By linking State of Missouri v. Celia to Black Lives Matter, the student identified the ways in which justice systems beholden to white supremacy have never been and can never be considered just. They were meant to defend the interests—even the depravities—of Newsom; they are supposed to protect Timothy Loehmann, not Tamir Rice.

Read the rest: Byrd – Celia, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Diffusion of Black Thought | AAIHS

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