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Who Freed the Slaves?
Episode 116th November 2020 • We the (Black) People • Brooklyn J-Flow
00:00:00 00:47:27

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I am launching my podcast by addressing a question that frequently gets two competing answers.

Most high school textbooks (and even a quick Google search) say Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Yet since the end of the Civil War, Black people and scholars have argued that the slaves freed themselves. Even with compelling evidence, the White-savior narrative has remained the dominant one.

I guess remembering that the Union only reluctantly proclaimed emancipation after tens of thousands of slaves had already fled to Union lines and declared themselves free isn't as glorious a story to tell.

Enslaved people were central actors of the Civil War from the beginning. Professor David Williams, author of I Freed Myself, joins me to discuss how Black people turned a war about keep the Union whole into emancipation, citizenship, and voting rights.

It was an uphill battle from the beginning as the Union government declared that it was not going to war to free slaves. Yet, Black people forced this to change by risking their lives to flee, fight for the Union, and demand rights for their service.

This is the incredible story of how Black people forced America closer to fulfilling its ideals that should be told in schools.

Relevant Books [As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]

I Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era by David Williams (https://amzn.to/32GtQ3J)

Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 by WEB DuBois (https://amzn.to/36quPGm)

Professor Williams also said that A People's History of the United States (https://amzn.to/2UwxKHW) is a huge inspiration to him, and it's a classic.

There are tons of further readings on slave self-emancipation, so I will just start by suggesting one that I really like, The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves (https://amzn.to/2UwqlZi).

Music Credit

PeaceLoveSoul by Jeris (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/VJ_Memes/35859 Ft: KungFu (KungFuFrijters)