Class, Church, and Place in Southern Black Communities

Sun. March 22, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

James Monroe’s Highland

2050 James Monroe Parkway, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Hosted by: James Monroe's Highland


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William Andrews (Slavery and Class in the American South), Daniel Thorp (Facing Freedom), and Nicole Myers Turner (Soul Liberty) share critical new studies of the lives of Southern blacks. Their works use slave narratives, land documents, local archives, church records, and geospatial mapping to unearth authentic accounts and provide new perspectives. Book sales and signing will follow. FREE to attend and open to the public.

Why should you attend?

“William Andrews has ‘lifted the veil’ on class relations within the slave community in the antebellum South. Well-meaning scholars, mostly for political reasons, have far too often chosen to remain silent about distinctions of class drawn by black people among themselves, starting in slavery, choosing to discuss African Americans as if they were always a social monolith, and thereby reducing their complexity. Andrews reveals, in riveting detail, that this has never been the case, even well before the Civil War. This is a seminal work of scholarship, one destined to generate a new branch of literary studies, dedicated to studying how class mattered within the African American tradition.” —Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University

Facing Freedom offers a detailed look at the lives of Montgomery County’s African Americans as they voted, fought for schools, built churches, bought land, and experienced the heartbreak of the arrival of Jim Crow. Rejecting or expanding upon a host of existing scholarly conclusions based on scattered sources, Daniel Thorp draws on rich local archives, which offer an unbroken record of fifty years of tumultuous interracial politics and black community-building. A lucid and moving contribution to the history of Virginia and southern Appalachia. —Jane Dailey, University of Chicago, author of The Age of Jim Crow

“How did black Christians in the South organize themselves both religiously and politically in the wake of the Civil War? Nicole Turner’s answer to that question unfolds in a nuanced and forceful demonstration that challenges common views of black political activity in churches as a twentieth-century phenomenon. Turner’s methodology combines traditional archival materials with more recent tools such as GIS mapping, reminding historians that new understandings of the past come from new ways of approaching the sources and the data.” —Mary Beth Mathews, University of Mary Washington

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