Neighbors, Citizens, Critics, Political Organizers: Notes from the Pre-Civil War Struggle for Citizenship


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Before the 14th amendment, there was no official definition of citizenship in America. We've really been making that up along the way, state by state. And from the beginning, Black people have enacted and put into print their vision of citizenship. In this episode, Professor Derrick Spires and I discuss his book The Practice of Citizenship: Black Politics and Print Culture in the Early United States and the figures in it who continuously demanded recognition.

These efforts ranged from insisting Black Americans practiced citizenship daily by their neighborliness to critiques targetting the fabric of America. Some even used America's revolutionary past to insist on a new revolution.

Watching today's battles to expand citizenship and restrict voting, it really seems like one long struggle.

Music Credit

PeaceLoveSoul by Jeris (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: KungFu (KungFuFrijters)

27 episodes