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VIRTUAL EVENT: BOOK TALK: Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence

Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Registration is requested
Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5

Force and Freedom book cover with featuring title and a picture of a revolver.Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence

with Kellie Carter Jackson

In Force and Freedom, Kellie Carter Jackson provides the first historical analysis exclusively focused on the tactical use of violence among antebellum black activists. Through rousing public speeches, the burgeoning black press, and the formation of milita groups, black abolitionist leaders mobilized their communities, compelled national action, and drew international attention. Drawing on the precedent and pathos of the American and Haitian Revolutions, African American abolitionists used violence as a political language and a means of provoking social change. Through tactical violence, black abolitionist leaders accomplished what white nonviolent abolitionists could not: creating the conditions that necessitated the Civil War. Force and Freedom takes readers beyond the honorable politics of moral suasion and the romanticism of the Underground Railroad and into an exploration of the agonizing decisions, strategies, and actions of the black abolitionists who, though lacking an official political voice, were nevertheless responsible for instigating monumental social and political change.

Black woman in a green dress standing against a stone doorwayKellie Carter Jackson is the Knafel Assistant Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College. Force and Freedom won the James H. Broussard Best First Book Prize, is a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, a finalist for the Museum of African American History Stone Book Prize, and listed among 13 books to read on African American History by the Washington Post. Carter Jackson is also co-editor of Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, & Memory. With a forward written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Reconsidering Roots is the first scholarly collection of essays devoted entirely to understanding the impact of Alex Haley's Roots. Carter Jackson's essays have been featured in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, NPR, Time, The Conversation, Black Perspectives, and Quartz. She has also been interviewed for her expertise for MSNBC, SkyNews (UK), the New York Times, the Guardian, PBS, Vox, Huff Post, C-Span, the BBC, Boston Public Radio, Al Jazeera International, and Slate. She has been featured in a host of documentaries and podcasts on history and race in the United States. Carter Jackson is also a commissioner for the Massachusetts Historical Commission, where she represents the Museum of African American History in Boston. Lastly, she is the co-host of the podcast, "This Day in Esoteric Political History." You can follow her on Twitter @kcarterjackson.

PURCHASE Force and Freedom from our partner, Harvard Book Store.

This event is presented as the keynote lecture for "Primary Sources in the Classroom: Abolition and the Underground Railroad."

Special thanks to our event co-sponsors:

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Auto-generated captions are available for most virtual programs. To request live captioning or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the event.