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Chapter 5 - Nineteenth-Century Autobiographical Writings by Freeborn African Americans

from Part I - Origins and Histories

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 September 2021

Joycelyn Moody
Affiliation:
University of Texas, San Antonio
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Summary

This chapter addresses examples of African American autobiography published before the Civil War that both called for and complicated the concept of a Black community, narratives not about the journey from slavery to freedom but about the story of a tenuous freedom and an uncertain community, a collective story under development and in need of a proper telling. Many of these autobiographies speak of platforms built, of relations established, of communities forged; others speak of the need for such platforms, the absence of immediate relations, the longing for community. What they all share, however, is the commitment to telling a different story about Black life and ambition than the one that was all but required of African Americans at the time, the story of suffering under slavery.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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