HRC Freedom Lab invites you to join Michaël Roy on “Children Are Abolitionists: Boys and Girls of the Antislavery Movement.”
Date/Time: Fri, Nov 25, 8-9:30 PM China time
Zoom ID: 261 330 4845
Speaker: Michaël Roy
Children were a vital, though neglected, presence in the US abolition movement. Throughout the antebellum period, a variety of abolitionists—the Liberator’s editor William Lloyd Garrison and the white reformer Henry Clarke Wright, the fugitive slave turned abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the African American primary school teacher Susan Paul—appealed to children’s antislavery and antiracist sympathies. “If . . . we desire to see our land delivered from the curse of PREJUDICE and SLAVERY,” Garrison declared in 1835, “we must direct our efforts chiefly to the rising generation.” His call did not go unheeded. Young abolitionists read antislavery tracts and slave narratives; they attended antislavery meetings and fairs; they learned and penned antislavery speeches which they recited at school; they participated in Emancipation Day celebrations and in programs to honor the memory of John Brown; they raised money to finance antislavery lecturers’ international travels; they even signed antislavery petitions, testing the limits of their citizenship. Aided by their parents and teachers, Black and white children acted in concrete ways against the slave system and made a meaningful contribution toward its demise. This presentation sheds light on their little-known activism.
Michaël Roy is Associate Professor of American Studies at Université Paris Nanterre and a Fellow of the Institut Universitaire de France. His research focuses on early African American print culture and the history of US abolitionism. He is the author of Fugitive Texts: Slave Narratives in Antebellum Print Culture (2022) and the editor of Frederick Douglass in Context (2021).