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Chapter 12 - Antislavery Activist Networks and Transatlantic Texts

from Part III - Black Geographies in Transition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 April 2021

Teresa Zackodnik
Affiliation:
University of Alberta
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Summary

This chapter argues that central to African American literature’s “pivot” at mid-century is its redefinition of antislavery’s activist networks “in an autonomous African American cultural and literary enterprise” that not only was shaped by transatlantic antislavery tactics and strategies, but transformed those old networks into new circuits of activism. William and Ellen Craft, Josiah Henson, and Henry Highland Garnet all undertook work that “memorialized and redefined the goals of old antislavery networks.” McCaskill considers not only Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom but also Ellen Craft’s private photograph album as establishing the wider frame in which these texts, and their imaginings of Black futures, could be taken up. Similarly, Henry Highland Garnet repurposed antislavery strategies and causes in his February 1865 sermon “Let the Monster Perish,” before the House of Representatives, by opening with his grandfather’s kidnapping from Africa and going on to sketch his own ability to forge a family with other abolitionists despite that natal disruption instituted by slavery. McCaskill argues that this and other published sermons attest to Garnet’s emergence from antislavery activism to contribute to “an emerging national literary tradition.”

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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