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“It Will Come at Last”: Acts of Emancipation in the Art, Culture and Politics of the Black Diaspora

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 May 2015

Abstract

For enslaved African Americans in the antebellum period, emancipation was writ large as the most pressing of political imperatives stemming from the most fundamental obligations of justice and humanity. That it could be achieved individually was clear from the activities of countless runaways, fugitives and cultural and political activists, Douglass and Jacobs included, who escaped territories of enslavement to become self-emancipated subjects on free soil. That it could be achieved collectively was evidenced by the success of the Haitian Revolution, with its army of enslaved and free black persons. This piece explores the ways in which emancipation is understood 150 years after US Emancipation at the end of the Civil War, and provides an introduction to the new scholarship on the many acts of emancipation, memorialization and practices of freedom discussed in this special issue.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and British Association for American Studies 2015 

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References

1 Frederick Douglass, “West India Emancipation,” speech delivered at Canandaigua, New York, 3 Aug. 1857, University of Rochester, Frederick Douglass Project, at www.lib.rochester.edu/index.cfm?PAGE=4398, accessed 18 Jan. 2015.

2 Speech on the anniversary of the Abolition of Colonial Slavery Act, cited in Yellin, Jean Fagan, et al. , The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers, Volume II (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 558–64, 561Google Scholar.

3 Abraham Lincoln, “The Gettysburg Address,” speech delivered on 19 Nov. 1863, the Gettysburg Foundation, www.gettysburgfoundation.org/41, accessed 18 Jan. 2015.

4 Berlin, Ira, “Who Freed the Slaves? Emancipation and Its Meaning in American Life,” in Blight, David W. and Simpson, Brooks D., eds., Union and Emancipation: Essays on Politics and Race in the Civil War Era (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1997)Google Scholar, 105–22, 110.

5 Klein, Herbert, African Slavery in Latin American and the Caribbean (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986)Google Scholar, 208.

6 Inglis, Tom, “Empowerment and Emancipation,” Adult Education Quarterly, 48, 1 (1997), 317CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 4–5.

7 Gilroy, Paul, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993)Google Scholar, 187–224.

8 Rice, Alan, Creating Memorials, Building Identities (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010)Google Scholar, 9.

9 Roach, Joseph, Cities of the Dead: Circumatlantic Performance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996)Google Scholar, xi, 26.

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“It Will Come at Last”: Acts of Emancipation in the Art, Culture and Politics of the Black Diaspora
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