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Leslie Alexander: High School Teachers Institute

Friday, September 22, 2023, 09:00am - 02:30pm

“Antebellum Black Political and Intellectual Thought”

September 22, 2023

9a – 2:30p

Leslie Alexander, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University

The early nineteenth century was a time of tremendous turmoil, as the newly independent United States struggled to forge a new nation. Political leaders, seeking to chart a new path forward, found themselves embroiled in endless ideological conflict. At the heart of much of this political strife was the explosive topic of slavery; particularly as the North abandoned their attachment to the international trade in humans and embraced an industrial economy, while the South became even more firmly committed to the expanding system of slavery. In this session, we’ll explore how newly emancipated Black northerners articulated their own political agenda—often also becoming deeply divided over political strategy as they fought for abolition, citizenship, and equality in a country that remained profoundly hostile to their presence. We discuss, in particular, how various Black activists imagined freedom, articulated the need for abolition, pleaded for citizenship, and even considered abandoning the United States entirely.

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