The African American Program of the Senator John Heinz History Center will hold its fourth annual Black History Month Lecture featuring Dr. Tera W. Hunter, professor in the History Department and the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University.
Dr. Hunter will speak on her new book, “Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century.” It is the first comprehensive history of marriage among African Americans in the 19th century. Setting their own standards for conjugal relationships, enslaved husbands and wives were creative and, of necessity, practical in starting and supporting families under conditions of uncertainty and cruelty. Laws passed during Reconstruction, ostensibly to secure the civil rights of newly freed African American citizens, were often coercive and repressive. Informal antebellum traditions of marriage were criminalized, and the new legal regime became a convenient tool for plantation owners to discipline agricultural workers. Recognition of the right of African Americans to enter into wedlock on terms equal to whites would remain a struggle into the Jim Crow era, and its legacy would resonate well into the twentieth century.
Admission to this event is free, but does not include access to museum exhibitions. Please register online.