Illuminating the moral dilemmas that lie at the heart of a slaveholding society, this book tells the story of a young slave who was sexually exploited by her master and ultimately executed for his murder. Celia was only fourteen years old when she was acquired by John Newsom, an aging widower and one of the most prosperous and respected citizens of Callaway County, Missouri. The pattern of sexual abuse that would mark their entire relationship began almost immediately. After purchasing Celia in a neighboring county, Newsom raped her on the journey back to his farm. He then established her in a small cabin near his house and visited her regularly (most likely with the knowledge of the son and two daughters who lived with him). Over the next five years, Celia bore Newsom two children; meanwhile, she became involved with a slave named George and resolved at his insistence to end the relationship with her master. When Newsom refused, Celia one night struck him fatally with a club and disposed of his body in her fireplace. Her act quickly discovered, Celia was brought to trial. She received a surprisingly vigorous defense from her court-appointed attorneys, who built their case on a state law allowing women the use of deadly force to defend their honor. Nevertheless, the court upheld the tenets of a white social order that wielded almost total control over the lives of slaves. Celia was found guilty and hanged. Melton A. McLaurin uses Celia's story to reveal the tensions that strained the fabric of antebellum southern society. Celia's case demonstrates how one master's abuse of power over a single slave forced whites to make moral decisions about the nature of slavery. McLaurin focuses sharply on the role of gender, exploring the degree to which female slaves were sexually exploited, the conditions that often prevented white women from stopping such abuse, and the inability of male slaves to defend slave women. Setting the case in the context of the 1850s slavery debates, he also probes the manner in which the legal system was used to justify slavery. By granting slaves certain statutory rights (which were usually rendered meaningless by the customary prerogatives of masters), southerners could argue that they observed moral restraint in the operations of their peculiar institution. An important addition to our understanding of the pre-Civil War era, Celia, A Slave is also an intensely compelling narrative of one woman pushed beyond the limits of her endurance by a system that denied her humanity at the most basic level.
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Recounts the story of Celia, a slave in antebellum Missouri who killed her master after five years of sexual abuse at his hands and was later found guilty of murder and hanged
The ninth winner of the Yale Drama Series is a searing and powerful drama of slave litigation, injustice, institutional racism, and the rule of law. The winner of the 2015 Yale Drama Series playwriting competition was selected by Nicholas Wright, former Associate Director of London's Royal Court. Barbara Seyda's stunningly theatrical Celia, a Slave is a vivid tableau of interviews with the dead that interweaves oral histories with official archival records. Powerful, poetic, and stylistically bold, this work foregrounds twenty-three diverse characters to recall the events that led to the hanging of nineteen-year-old Celia, an African American slave convicted in a Missouri court of murdering her master, the prosperous landowner Robert Newsom, in 1855. Excavating actual trial transcripts and court records, Seyda bears witness to racial and sexual violence in U.S. history, illuminating the brutal realities of female slave life in the pre-Civil War South while exploring the intersection of rape, morality, economics, and gender politics that continue to resonate today.
From the author of the bestselling and award-winning WITCH CHILD, comes another outstanding historical novel. When two young women meet under extraordinary circumstances in the eighteenth-century West Indies, they are unified in their desire to escape their oppressive lives. The first is a slave, forced to work in a plantation mansion and subjected to terrible cruelty at the hands of the plantation manager. The second is a spirited and rebellious English girl, sent to the West Indies to marry well. But fate ensures that one night the two young women have to save each other and run away to a life no less dangerous but certainly a lot more free. As pirates, they roam the seas, fight pitched battles against their foes and become embroiled in many a heart-quickening adventure. Written in brilliant and sparkling first-person narrative, this is a wonderful novel in which Celia Rees has brought the past vividly and intimately to life.
With an executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, the United States Marine Corps--the last all-white branch of the U.S. military--was forced to begin recruiting and enlisting African Americans. The first black recruits received basic training at the segregated Camp Montford Point, adjacent to Camp Lejeune, near Jacksonville, North Carolina. Between 1942 and 1949 (when the base was closed as a result of President Truman's 1948 order fully desegregating all military forces) more than 20,000 men trained at Montford Point, most of them going on to serve in the Pacific Theatre in World War II as members of support units. This book, in conjunction with the documentary film of the same name, tells the story of these Marines for the first time. Drawing from interviews with 60 veterans, The Marines of Montford Point relates the experiences of these pioneers in their own words. From their stories, we learn about their reasons for enlisting; their arrival at Montford Point and the training they received there; their lives in a segregated military and in the Jim Crow South; their experiences of combat and service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam; and their legacy. The Marines speak with flashes of anger and humor, sometimes with sorrow, sometimes with great wisdom, and always with a pride fostered by incredible accomplishment in the face of adversity. This book serves to recognize and to honor the men who desegregated the Marine Corps and loyally served their country in three major wars.
Originally published in 1991, Celia, a Slave illuminates the moral dilemmas that lie at the heart of a slaveholding society by telling the story of a young slave who was sexually exploited by her enslaver and ultimately executed for his murder. Melton A. McLaurin uses Celia’s story to reveal the tensions that strained the fabric of antebellum southern society by focusing on the role of gender and the manner in which the legal system was used to justify slavery. An important addition to our understanding of the pre–Civil War era, Celia, a Slave is also an intensely compelling narrative of one woman pushed beyond the limits of her endurance by a system that denied her humanity at the most basic level.
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Forcibly removed from their homes in the late 1830s, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians brought their African-descended slaves with them along the Trail of Tears and resettled in Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. Celia E. Naylor vividly charts the experiences of enslaved and free African Cherokees from the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma's entry into the Union in 1907. Carefully extracting the voices of former slaves from interviews and mining a range of sources in Oklahoma, she creates an engaging narrative of the composite lives of African Cherokees. Naylor explores how slaves connected with Indian communities not only through Indian customs--language, clothing, and food--but also through bonds of kinship. Examining this intricate and emotionally charged history, Naylor demonstrates that the "red over black" relationship was no more benign than "white over black." She presents new angles to traditional understandings of slave resistance and counters previous romanticized ideas of slavery in the Cherokee Nation. She also challenges contemporary racial and cultural conceptions of African-descended people in the United States. Naylor reveals how black Cherokee identities evolved reflecting complex notions about race, culture, "blood," kinship, and nationality. Indeed, Cherokee freedpeople's struggle for recognition and equal rights that began in the nineteenth century continues even today in Oklahoma.
Essays exploring Black women’s experiences with slavery in the Americas. Gender was a decisive force in shaping slave society. Slave men’s experiences differed from those of slave women, who were exploited both in reproductive as well as productive capacities. The women did not figure prominently in revolts, because they engaged in less confrontational resistance, emphasizing creative struggle to survive dehumanization and abuse. The contributors are Hilary Beckles, Barbara Bush, Cheryl Ann Cody, David Barry Gaspar, David P. Geggus, Virginia Meacham Gould, Mary Karasch, Wilma King, Bernard Moitt, Celia E. Naylor-Ojurongbe, Robert A. Olwell, Claire Robertson, Robert W. Slenes, Susan M. Socolow, Richard H. Steckel, and Brenda E. Stevenson. “A much-needed volume on a neglected topic of great interest to scholars of women, slavery, and African American history. Its broad comparative framework makes it all the more important, for it offers the basis for evaluating similarities and contrasts in the role of gender in different slave societies. . . . [This] will be required reading for students all of the American South, women’s history, and African American studies.” —Drew Gilpin Faust, Annenberg Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania