Welcome to the After Slavery Project
"The most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history," the renowned African-American scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois insisted in his path-breaking Black Reconstruction, was the forced removal of ten million Africans out of their homelands and into the new plantation societies of the Americas from the mid-sixteenth century onward. "They descended into Hell," he wrote, "and in the third century they arose from the dead, in the finest effort to achieve democracy for the working millions which this world had ever seen." The After Slavery website is intended as an online resource for those who want to understand that momentous effort-and its defeat-as former slaves and their adversaries contested the meaning and scope of freedom after the American Civil War.
Aimed at historians and aspiring historians of slave emancipation and its aftermath, the site is a collaborative work-in-progress involving a team of four scholars based in the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom, whose current research is focused on labor, race and citizenship in the post-emancipation Carolinas. The project is directed from Queen's University Belfast and funded by the (UK) Arts & Humanities Research Council. Our hope in launching the site is to make available to a diverse online community of students and educators, professional historians and interested citizens, a range of high-quality materials for exploring and analyzing one of the most tumultuous and critically important periods in the history of the United States. If the study of the past has any value in helping us to understand the present, or in guiding us in trying to shape the future, then there can be few chapters in the American experience that speak to us more powerfully than the crucial years during which four million former slaves tried to make something out of freedom.
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