Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela J. Gross

May 31, 2022

Becoming Free, Becoming Black

Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana

Cambridge University Press 2020

How did Africans become 'blacks' in the Americas? Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana (Cambridge UP, 2020) tells the story of enslaved and free people of color who used the law to claim freedom and citizenship for themselves and their loved ones. Their communities challenged slaveholders' efforts to make blackness synonymous with slavery. Looking closely at three slave societies - Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana - Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela J. Gross demonstrate that the law of freedom - not slavery - established the meaning of blackness in law. Contests over freedom determined whether and how it was possible to move from slave to free status, and whether claims to citizenship would be tied to racial identity. Laws regulating the lives and institutions of free people of color created the boundaries between black and white, the rights reserved to white people, and the degradations imposed only on black people.

Brandon T. Jett, professor of history at Florida SouthWestern State College, creator of the Lynching in LaBelle Digital History Project, and author of Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South (LSU Press, 202) Twitter: @DrBrandonJett1

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Brandon Jett

Brandon T. Jett, professor of history at Florida SouthWestern State College, creator of the Lynching in LaBelle Digital History Project, and author of Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South (LSU Press, 202) Twitter: @DrBrandonJett1

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