Almost 184 years ago, on July 4, 1836, Tolbert Major, his brother Austin, their widowed neighbor Agnes Harlan, and dozens of other freeborn or formerly enslaved black people gathered on Staten Island for a celebration—it was an Independence Day that held deep meaning for them. The next day, they would set sail for Liberia, Africa, a place where they could own land, participate in government, and make their own choices about their lives.
Joining them for a send-off ceremony were officials from the New York Colonization Society, part of the hotly debated colonization movement. Tolbert, Austin, Agnes, and their families were among the 16,000 black people who left America for Africa in the 1800s and early 1900s. It was the largest out-migration in American history, but it’s a story few Americans know.
My new book, Liberty Brought Us Here (University Press of Kentucky) tells the true tale of the Major brothers and Agnes Harlan. The book is based on extensive research and the surviving letters from Africa sent by the Major brothers to the man who had freed them. Liberty Brought Us Here is now available in hardcover and e-book editions. Receive 30 percent off by ordering directly from the publisher at www.KentuckyPress.com before July 31; use the code FS30 at checkout. The book is also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.
And on this Independence Day, remember those who are not free. (On the left: Liberia's flag, in a nod to the country's connection to the USA, is similiar to the US flag.)
The National Women’s History Museum has created a new project called “Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project.” The journals will be used as a living archive of women’s lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be published online and presented in the future at the physical site of the National Women’s History Museum. https://www.womenshistory.org/journal-project
Louisville’s Filson Historical Society is also collecting writing about personal experiences during the pandemic. No word limit; poetry, short fiction, and essays accepted; include a short author bio (50–75 words). Send submission to Jennifer Cole, email@example.com.