The Bone and Sinew of the Land
America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality
Most people’s image of the American frontier does not conjure anything relating to people of African descent. But, as Anna-Lisa Cox’s points out in her new book The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality (PublicAffairs, 2018), it should. Dr. Cox uncovers not only the presence of black life in the Northwest Territory states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, but also the communities and institutions they built as they strived for equality in a constantly shifting governmental terrain. Their pursuit of freedom coincided with the Abolitionist and Colored Conventions movements that voiced the aspirations of blacks. Dr. Cox weaves an intricate story of black freedom and the triumphs and pitfalls African Americans faced prior to the Civil War.
Adam McNeil is a PhD student in History, African American Public Humanities Initiative and Colored Conventions Project Fellow at the University of Delaware. He can be reached on Twitter @CulturedModesty.