Alaina E. Roberts — I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (America in the Nineteenth Century) — at Conn Ave

Upcoming Event
Sunday, May 21, 2023 - 5:00pm

Perhaps no other symbol has more resonance in African American history than that of "40 acres and a mule"--the lost promise of Black reparations for slavery after the Civil War. In I've Been Here All the While, we meet the Black people who actually received this mythic 40 acres, the American settlers who coveted this land, and the Native Americans whose holdings it originated from. In nineteenth-century Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), a story unfolds that ties African American and Native American history tightly together, revealing a western theatre of Civil War and Reconstruction, in which Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, their Black slaves, and African Americans and whites from the eastern United States fought military and rhetorical battles to lay claim to land that had been taken from others. Through chapters that chart cycles of dispossession, land seizure, and settlement in Indian Territory, Alaina E. Roberts draws on archival research and family history to upend the traditional story of Reconstruction. She connects debates about Black freedom and Native American citizenship to westward expansion onto Native land. As Black, white, and Native people constructed ideas of race, belonging, and national identity, this part of the West became, for a short time, the last place where Black people could escape Jim Crow, finding land and exercising political rights, until Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

Alaina E. Roberts is an award-winning African American, Chickasaw, and Choctaw historian who studies the intersection of Black and Native American life from the Civil War to the modern day. Currently an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Roberts holds a Doctorate in History from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in History, with honors, from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She writes, teaches, and presents public talks about Black and Native history in the West, family history, slavery in the Five Tribes (the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Indian Nations), Native American enrollment politics, and Indigeneity in North America and across the globe. In addition to multiple academic articles, her writing has appeared in news outlets like the Washington Post, High Country News, and TIME magazine, and she has been profiled by CNN, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Boston Globe.

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This event is free with first come, first served seating.

5015 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (America in the Nineteenth Century) By Alaina E. Roberts Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781512824728
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: University of Pennsylvania Press - January 10th, 2023