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The cause of freedom : a concise history of African Americans

Call Number

  • 973.0496 H7455 (CEN)

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Publication Information

New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2021]

Physical Description

x, 150 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


"In telling the story of the African American past The Cause of Freedom demonstrates how difficult it is to answer this question. Even if we somehow ignore for a moment that the history of the African American presence in North America predates the establishment of this country by over 150 years, we are left with the puzzle: the United States of America takes great pride in its commitment to freedom and yet somehow accepted the preservation of slavery in its founding documents. Similarly, in a country that places so much rhetorical importance on the equality of opportunity, we have reconciled ourselves too easily to the sense that there's little more to be done to make accommodations for the structural inequalities that were birthed by racialized slavery and that remain with us in the present day. Answering what it means to be American, however, does not go far enough in terms of capturing the totality of the African American past. Other deceptively brief questions speak to similarly complicated answers. For example, because the African American past predates the founding of the United States, and because that pre-Declaration history is overwhelmingly defined by the daily brutalities associated with racialized slavery, it is useful to pose the broader question, "What does it mean to be human?" Asking this question helps us gain insight into English settlers' mindset as they justified creating a system of racialized chattel slavery in colonial Virginia to replace the system of indentured servitude that they brought with them when they initially crossed the Atlantic"--


  • Race, slavery, and ideology in colonial North America
  • Resistance and African American identity before the Civil War
  • War, freedom, and a nation reconsidered
  • Civilization, race, and the politics of uplift
  • The making of the modern Civil Rights Movement(s)
  • The paradoxes of post-civil rights America
  • Epilogue: Stony the road we trod.

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