Sometimes, when another work on the Civil War, slavery, and emancipation lands on one’s desk, there is a natural tendency to wonder if we actually need it. What is left to say, the historian may ask, about Lincoln, Congress, and emancipation? And then a tragedy like Charlottesville in August 2017 occurs.
Paying Freedom’s Price is a slim volume that joins the African American History Series, a coterie of books with the aim of being both historically informative and accessible to a popular audience. It succeeds in being a concise, readable, broad stroke overview of African American engagements and struggles prior, during, and after the Civil War.
Americans cherish the ‘American dream’ – the notion that anyone can achieve financial success and happiness in the United States. This idea is based on an assumption of economic equality and freedom within the United States’ capitalist market.
Much like the American public, following the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s scholars of United States history have had a complex relationship with blackface minstrelsy. For scholars, as for many Americans, blackface minstrelsy partook in a vibrant and rich vernacular tradition, albeit one that by now most Americans have rightfully grown ashamed of.