In New Book, Wellesley College Professor Sheds Light on the Use of Political Violence by Black Abolitionists

Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence by Kellie Carter Jackson provides first historical analysis exclusively focused on tactical use of violence among antebellum black activists


  • newswise-fullscreen In New Book, Wellesley College Professor Sheds Light on the Use of Political Violence by Black Abolitionists

    Credit: Wellesley College

    Kellie Carter Jackson, assistant professor of Africana studies at Wellesley College.

Newswise — Wellesley, Mass. (March 27, 2019) — In Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence (University of Pennsylvania Press), Kellie Carter Jackson, assistant professor of Africana studies at Wellesley College, provides the first historical analysis exclusively focused on the tactical use of violence among antebellum black activists.

Force and Freedom positions black abolitionists and their embrace of violence at the center of the abolitionist movement, offering a reframing of the familiar narrative that abolitionism was a white-led movement that adhered to principles of moral suasion and nonviolent resistance.

“Much of the abolitionist movement is told through the lens of sympathetic white allies, or limited to the narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman,” said Carter Jackson. “It’s important to emphasize that black abolitionist efforts were central to the abolition of slavery. Their activism is furthermore connected to a long tradition of resistance to oppression, including the revolutionary violence of the American and Haitian revolutions.”

Through rousing public speeches, the burgeoning black press, and the formation of militia groups, black abolitionists mobilized their communities, compelled national action, and drew international attention, ultimately achieving what white nonviolent abolitionists could not: creating the conditions that necessitated the Civil War.

Force and Freedom takes readers beyond the politics of moral suasion and the romanticism of the Underground Railroad, and into an exploration of the decisions, strategies, and actions of the black abolitionists, who, though lacking an official political voice, were nevertheless instrumental in instigating monumental social and political change.

Carter Jackson is an assistant professor of Africana studies at Wellesley College, where she researches slavery and abolitionism, violence as a political discourse, historical film, and black women’s history. She co-edited Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, and Memory, the first scholarly collection of essays devoted entirely to understanding the visual, cultural, and political influence of the book and the miniseries Roots on American history. Carter Jackson was also featured in the History Channel’s documentary Roots: A History Revealed, which was nominated for an NAACP image award in 2016.

About Wellesley College

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an outstanding liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to some 2,400 undergraduate students from 49 states and 58 countries.

 

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