Leslie Harris writes:
Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie Brown discuss urban slavery in the United States on 15 Minute History:
“When most people think about slavery in the United States, they think of large agricultural plantations and picture slaves working in the fields harvesting crops. But for a significant number of slaves, their experience involved working in houses, factories, and on the docks of the South’s booming cities. Urban slavery, as it has come to be known, is often overlooked in the annals of slave experience.
This week’s guests Daina Ramey Berry, from UT’s Department of History, and Leslie Harris, from Emory University, have spent the past year collaborating on a new study aimed at re-discovering this forgotten aspect of slave experience in the United States.”
Listen to the podcast and read the transcript here: Episode 54: Urban Slavery in the Antebellum United States | 15 Minute History.
This week, The Public Archive published its fourth installment on Radical Black Reading. The subject was race, urbanity, black geographies, and sense of place:
In this, The Public Archive’s fourth installment of Radical Black Reading,* we hope to contribute to an informal conversation about the history, plight, and future of Black cities – and towards the imagination of a radical Black city. It is a conversation taking place (if only in disparate, scattered form) across the African diaspora. The question of Black urban space, of Black geographies, and of the possibility of a radical Black city adds an urgent element to discussions of the nature of the urban, while the very survival of the Black city becomes a radical act of hope and resistance.
Several books of relevance were listed including Alejandro de la Fuente’s Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century (2011), Leslie Harris’s African or American? Black Identity and Political Activism in New York City, 1784-1861 (2010), and Carla Peterson’s Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City. De la Fuente, Harris and Peterson are also featured here, here and here at #ADPhD.
Leslie M. Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
In 1991 in lower Manhattan, a team of construction workers made an astonishing discovery. Just two blocks from City Hall, under twenty feet of asphalt, concrete, and rubble, lay the remains of an eighteenth-century “Negro Burial Ground.” Closed in 1790 and covered over by roads and buildings throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the site turned out to be the largest such find in North America, containing the remains of as many as 20,000 African Americans. The graves revealed to New Yorkers and the nation an aspect of American history long hidden: the vast number of enslaved blacks who labored to create our nation’s largest city.In the Shadow of Slavery lays bare this history of African Americans in New York City, starting with the arrival of the first slaves in 1626, moving through the turbulent years before emancipation in 1827, and culminating in one of the most terrifying displays of racism in U.S. history, the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. Drawing on extensive travel accounts, autobiographies, newspapers, literature, and organizational records, Leslie M. Harris extends beyond prior studies of racial discrimination by tracing the undeniable impact of African Americans on class, politics, and community formation and by offering vivid portraits of the lives and aspirations of countless black New Yorkers.
Rael, Patrick, ed. African-American Activism before the Civil War: The Freedom Struggle in the Antebellum North. New edition. New York City, NY: Routledge, 2008.
From the Routledge website:
African-American Activism before the Civil War is the first collection of scholarship on the role of African Americans in the struggle for racial equality in the northern states before the Civil War. Many of these essays are already known as classics in the field, and others are well on their way to becoming definitive in a still-evolving field. Here, in one place for the first time, anchored by a comprehensive, analytical introduction discussing the historiography of antebellum black activism, the best scholarship on this crucial group of African American activists can finally be studied together.
Chapter 1: “Emancipation of the Negro Abolitionist”, Leon Litwack
Chapter 2: “Black Power—The Debate in 1840”, Jane H. Pease, William H. Pease
Chapter 3: “Elevating the Race: The Social Thought of Black Leaders, 1827-1850”, Frederick Cooper
Chapter 4: “Black History’s Antebellum Origins”, Benjamin Quarles
Chapter 5: “Since They Got Those Separate Churches: Afro-Americans and Racism in Jacksonian Philadelphia”, Emma Jones Lapsansky
Chapter 6: “Interpreting Early Black Ideology: A Reappraisal of Historical Consensus”, George A. Levesque
Chapter 7: “Afro-American Identity: Reflections on the Pre-Civil War Era”, Ernest Allen, Jr.
Chapter 8: “Freedom’s Yoke: Gender Conventions among Antebellum Free Blacks,” James Oliver Horton
Chapter 9: “The Political Significance of Slave Resistance”, James Oakes
Chapter 10: “It was a Proud Day: African Americans, Festivals, and Parades in the North, 1741-1834”, Shane White
Chapter 11: “Ethiopia Shall Soon Stretch Forth Her Hands: Black Destiny in Nineteenth-Century America”, Albert Raboteau
Chapter 12: “The Emergence of Racial Modernity and the Rise of the White North, 1790-1840”, James Brewer Stewart
Chapter 13: “From Abolitionist Amalgamators to ‘Rulers of the Five Points’: The Discourse of Interracial Sex and Reform in Antebellum New York City,” Leslie M. Harris
Chapter 14: “The Redeemer Race and the Angry Saxon: Race, Gender, and White People in Antebellum Black Ethnology,” Mia Bay
Chapter 15: “The Market Revolution and Market Values in Antebellum Black Protest Thought”, Patrick Rael
In the summer of 2007, the Journal of Women’s History (19:2) published a roundtable on “The History of Women and Slavery: Considering the Impact of Ar’n’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South on the Twentieth Anniversary of Its Publication.”
According to the “Introduction” by Jennifer L. Morgan, the roundtable was originally a series of papers presented in June 2005 at the 13th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women at Scripps College in Claremont, California. The 7 essays consider Deborah Gray White’s landmark work, Ar’n’t I A Woman: Female Slaves in the Plantation South (originally published in 1985) and the state of scholarship on women of color during the period of slavery, including strides made by enterprising women in the field. The article received the 2007 Letitia Woods Brown Article Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians.
Journal of Women’s History (19:2), Summer 2007
Roundtable: “The History of Women and Slavery: Considering the Impact of Ar’n’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South on the Twentieth Anniversary of Its Publication.”
Jennifer Morgan, “Introduction.”
Daina Ramey Berry, “Teaching Ar’n’t I a Woman?”
Stephanie M. H. Camp, “Ar’n’t I a Woman? in the Vanguard of the History of Race and Sex in the United States.”
Leslie M. Harris, “Ar’n’t I a Woman?, Gender, and Slavery Studies.”
Barbara Krauthamer, “Ar’n’t I a Woman? Native Americans, Gender, and Slavery”
Jessica Millward, “More History Than Myth: African American Women’s History Since the Publication of Ar’n’t I a Woman?”
Deborah Gray White, “Afterword: A Response.”