• The Entanglement of Art and Slavery in the Work of Juan de Pareja

    by Rachel Hunter Himes

    Diego Velázquez painted the portrait of Juan de Pareja in 1650. An art historian considers what more we can learn about the painting and the world in which it was made by examining the paradox of a dignified and beatific portrayal of a man painted by another man who enslaved him. 

  • July 4 Was Once a Day of Protest by the Enslaved

    by Matt Clavin

    The public declarations of freedom and political equality that accompanied Independence Day were a prompt for protest, escape, and rebellion for the enslaved. 

  • Texas Politicians Want to Erase What Happened Between Juneteenth and Jim Crow

    by Jeffrey L. Littlejohn and Zachary Montz

    Joshua Houston, long enslaved by Sam Houston, recognized that the collective work of securing freedom only began with the announcement of emancipation, and that teaching the state's history honestly was part of the struggle for an egalitarian society against people determined to stand against it. 

  • Determined to Remember: Harriet Jacobs and Slavery's Descendants

    by Koritha Mitchell

    Public history sites have the potential to spark intellectual engagement because when they make embodied connections between people and the sites they visit—even when those connections evoke the cruelty of the past. 

  • Thomas Jefferson's Secret Plan to Whiten Virginia

    by Timothy Messer-Kruse

    After the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson returned from the Continental Congress to a seat in the Virginia legislature, where he undertook an ambitious effort to overhaul the laws. His work is an illuminating look at Jefferson's vision of the ideal American republic as a place purged of both slavery and of Black people. 

  • Gullah Geechee of Sea Islands Fight for their Post-Slavery Legacy

    by DeNeen L Brown

    The Gullah Geechee people were chosen for enslavement in the Sea Islands because of their experience cultivating rice in Africa, and maintained a distinctive culture with strong African elements through slavery and emancipation. Development and gentrification threaten that legacy today. 

  • Why Everyone Born in the US is a Citizen, and Why it Matters

    by Amanda Frost

    In upholding birthright citizenship in the case of US v. Wong Kim Ark, the court invoked English common law, rather than claims to citizenship rights and freedom by escaped slaves, as the foundation of the 14th Amendment's definition of citizenship. This makes the principle vulnerable when it should be unassailable.