Educated For Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation

Anna Mae Duane. New York Univ, $30 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4798-4747-1
University of Connecticut English professor Duane (Suffering Childhood in Early America) casts a revealing dual biography of James McCune Smith (1813–1865) and Henry Highland Garnet (1815–1882) against the backdrop of early-19th-century debates over the future of black people in America. Born into slavery, Smith and Garnet were educated at the Mulberry Street New African Free School in New York City, where administrators taught students that black people “must either embrace a cheerful exile abroad or accept a living death in the United States.” By colonizing Africa, the argument went, African-Americans could “reenact and ultimately redeem American colonization.” Smith, who became the first African-American to hold a medical degree, rejected this viewpoint and argued for “dogged persistence” in achieving freedom and equality in the U.S. Meanwhile, Garnet, who became a minister and famous orator, advocated for African colonization up until the Civil War. Duane eloquently describes the threats and obstacles black children faced in pursuit of their education (Garnet, she notes, once found his family’s home ransacked by slave catchers), but the narrative loses steam as its focus turns to internal conflicts within the abolitionist movement and close readings of both men’s speeches and essays. Nevertheless, this erudite chronicle succeeds in lifting up two underappreciated figures of the antislavery movement. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 01/15/2020
Release date: 01/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-6905-8061-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-6905-8065-2
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-4798-1671-2
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