The Roots of African-American Identity: Memory and History in Antebellum Free Communities

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Spanning the eight decades between the American Revolution and the Civil War, Bethel focuses on the lives of African Americans living in the nominally free northern and western states. Examining race and the construction of a politicized racial identity, this book explores how a group of fundamentally marginalized people crafted a uniquely New World ethnic identity which informed popular African American historical consciousness. The vision of freedom and historical consciousness this population crafted shaped post-1865 African American participation in Reconstruction, formed the spiritual and ideological foundation for the modern Pan-African movement and provided the historical legacy for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.