Enslavement and Indian Removal

From the early days of America, the idea of race was not a neutral descriptor but inextricably bound up with white supremacy and domination over others.

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Slavery, and the Idea of Race
by California Newsreel
A look at how racial classifications developed to discourage class solidarity between African slaves and white indentured servants in the colonies, and changed over time due to specific historical circumstances.
interview
James O. Horton
A look at the fluidity of racial identities in early colonial America, the long history of slavery not based on race, and how the rationalization of slavery continues to affect us today.

James O. Horton (1943–2017) was Benjamin Banneker Professor of American Studies and History at George Washington University, and Director of the Afro-American Communities Project of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.

article
Africans, Slavery, and Race
by John Cheng
Historian John Cheng argues that ideas of racial inferiority of Africans developed and hardened in the late-17th and 18th centuries, well after the start of the transatlantic slave trade, in order to justify their place in society.
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film clip
The Story We Tell: “Civilization” Policy for Native Americans
"Thomas Jefferson, among many people, felt that the Indians were good human material, and the problem was not race, but culture. The Indians were savages but they could be civilized."
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film clip
2020 panel discussion on Race—The Power of an Illusion, Part II
On Friday, September 25 we hosted a screening of Part II of Race—The Power of an Illusion: The Story We Tell, followed by a one-hour panel discussion with experts.
Q&A
Slavery is long over, how does race affect us today?
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Q&A
How does the U.S. history of race and slavery compare to slavery in the rest of world history?
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Q&A
Didn't the Founding Fathers oppose slavery?
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Q&A
Are reparations for slavery appropriate?
episode 3
article
Origin of the Idea of Race
by Audrey Smedley
Anthropologist Audrey Smedley explains how race was institutionalized in the 19th century as a worldview to justify slavery, inequality, and establish who should have access to privilege, power, status, and wealth, and who should not.
Q&A
Why were only Africans enslaved?
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Q&A
Has race always been with us?
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interview
Ira Berlin
What was early colonial Virginia like? How are race and freedom tied together? What is the tension in American history with regard to race?

Ira Berlin (1941-2018) was a Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Maryland.  Among his many books are, Generations of Captivity: A History of African American Slaves and Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in America.

interview
Audrey Smedley
How is race a modern concept? Why were Africans enslaved? What role did 19th century ethnologists and race scientists play in shaping our understanding of race?

Audrey Smedley is currently (2019) Professor Emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University in anthropology and African-American studies. She is the author of Race in North America: Origins of a Worldview.

interview
Karen Ordahl Kupperman
How did the English and Native peoples of America view themselves and each other at the time of their first encounter? Why did the English colonize North America?

Karen Ordahl Kupperman is currently (2019) Professor of History at New York University. She is author of Indians and English: Facing Off in North America and Roanoke: The Lost Colony.

interview
Robert Rydell
What do the world's fairs tell us about our ideas of race? How did Americans at the start of the 20th century view themselves and others? Why were indigenous peoples from around the world put on display?

Robert Rydell is currently (2019) Professor of History at Montana State University. He is a specialist on world's fairs, and author of All the World's a Fair.

interview
Theda Perdue
How did ideas of race change and affect the treatment of Native Americans and the self-identity of tribes like the Cherokee, from the early encounter with British colonists to today?

Theda Perdue is currently (2019) Professor Emerita of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Among her books are The Cherokee; Cherokee Women; and the forthcoming "Mixed Blood" Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South.

Q&A
Why was a racist ideology so easy for white America to accept and internalize?
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