In one of those wonderful emergent social media moments yesterday, a suggested reading list emerged on Twitter, hashtagged #CharlestonSyllabus.
I have two personal contributions.
I’ve written previously in this space about Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. It’s a powerful economic history arguing that America’s great wealth was built on the backs slaves, and a moral history arguing that the great technological innovation at the heart of our nation’s wealth was, at its root, torture. It is painful and one of the finest books I have read.
I’m now in the midst of Adam Rothman’s Beyond Freedom’s Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery. It tells the story of emancipation through the life of Rose Herera, a New Orleans slave whose children were taken from her as slavery’s decline was upon us. Was it kidnapping, or were they property? It is microhistory, shedding light on the great moral struggle through one richly told story.
Keisha Blain and colleagues at the African American Intellectual History Society have curated a large list here, and explain the backstory behind the hashtag’s emergence.