Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights

The Boston University History Department hosts Martha S. Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor at Johns Hopkins University for the 2019 Gaspar G. Bacon Lecture. Birthright Citizens 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 US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Martha S. 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 as the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, black Americans' aspirations were realized. This event is free and open to the BU community. Please register at Eventbrite for this event.

Speaker(s): Martha S. Jones
Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 4:30pm
CILSE, 610 Commonwealth Avenue (Room 101)
Admission is free
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CAS History
Boston University