Social Sciences Forum — Low Lecture
“Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America”
Martha Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University
Wednesday, April 10, 4 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Martha Jones will discuss her recent book, Birthright Citizens, which tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans. Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how when the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, the aspirations of black Americans’ aspirations were realized.
Book signing and reception to follow lecture. Admission is free and open to the public.
Photo courtesy of Martha Jones
This event is sponsored by the Department of History.
Plan your visit
UMBC is located about 10 minutes south of the Baltimore Inner Harbor along I-95. For this event, visitor parking is available in the Walker Avenue Garage, next to the Library — please click here for additional information.
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