Amrita Chakrabarti Myers, Associate Professor of History at Indiana University, will speak about “Making a Way out of No Way: Black Women in the Old South” in the Kresge Foundation Room, 039 Graham Memorial Hall.
Examining life, liberty, and ideas about civil rights from the perspective of those invested with the least formal power in the Old South, this lecture will show how black women in Charleston, South Carolina used all the resources at their disposal to enjoy a freedom of their own design. Drawing on family papers, legislative documents, probate records, parish registers, census data, tax lists and city directories, Myers considers black women as social, economic, and political actors in the antebellum South. She will also share her recent research on Richard Mentor Johnson, a Kentucky statesman who served as Vice President under Martin Van Buren, and Julia Chinn, a black woman who became Johnson’s common-law spouse for twenty years.
Amrita Chakrabarti Myers is a historian of the black female experience in the Old South. Her first book, Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston, (UNC Press, 2011) has received numerous awards, including the 2012 Phillis Wheatley Book Prize from the Northeast Black Studies Association and the 2012 Julia Cherry Spruill Book Prize from the Southern Association of Women Historians. Myers’ work has been supported by a Scholarly Research Fellowship from the Kentucky Historical Society, a Mellon Fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia, and a Research Fellowship from the University of South Carolina.