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Girl in Black and White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams and the Abolition Movement PDF, ePub eBook

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Girl in Black and White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams and the Abolition Movement

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Girl in Black and White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams and the Abolition Movement PDF, ePub eBook The riveting, little-known story of Mary Mildred Williams—a slave girl who looked “white”—whose photograph transformed the abolitionist movement. When a decades-long court battle resulted in her family’s freedom in 1855, seven-year-old Mary Mildred Williams unexpectedly became the face of American slavery. Famous abolitionists Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry David Thoreau The riveting, little-known story of Mary Mildred Williams—a slave girl who looked “white”—whose photograph transformed the abolitionist movement. When a decades-long court battle resulted in her family’s freedom in 1855, seven-year-old Mary Mildred Williams unexpectedly became the face of American slavery. Famous abolitionists Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry David Thoreau, and John Albion Andrew would help Mary and her family in freedom, but Senator Charles Sumner saw a monumental political opportunity. Due to generations of sexual violence, Mary’s skin was so light that she “passed” as white, and this fact would make her the key to his white audience’s sympathy. During his sold-out abolitionist lecture series, Sumner paraded Mary in front of rapt audiences as evidence that slavery was not bounded by race. Weaving together long-overlooked primary sources and arresting images, including the daguerreotype that turned Mary into the poster child of a movement, Jessie Morgan-Owens investigates tangled generations of sexual enslavement and the fraught politics that led Mary to Sumner. She follows Mary’s story through the lives of her determined mother and grandmother to her own adulthood, parallel to the story of the antislavery movement and the eventual signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Girl in Black and White restores Mary to her rightful place in history and uncovers a dramatic narrative of travels along the Underground Railroad, relationships tested by oppression, and the struggles of life after emancipation. The result is an exposé of the thorny racial politics of the abolitionist movement and the pervasive colorism that dictated where white sympathy lay—one that sheds light on a shameful legacy that still affects us profoundly today.

30 review for Girl in Black and White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams and the Abolition Movement

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andy Morgan

    Absolutely could not put down! If you at all enjoy non-fiction that challenge your perceptions, you have to get this book. Photography, politics, race genealogy, and feminism, in one incredible history.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sugarpuss O'Shea

    **1.5 Stars** I just finished this book & I still don't know what it was about. Was this a book about photography? Literary criticism? Slavery? Abolitionist history? The Civil War? The Underground Railroad? Passing? Court trials? Senator Sumner? Frederick Douglass? John Brown? Obscure photographers & their studios? Massachusetts? I hope you get my point here.... I thought this was going to be a book about a little girl & how she was used/exploited by abolitionists to bring people to t **1.5 Stars** I just finished this book & I still don't know what it was about. Was this a book about photography? Literary criticism? Slavery? Abolitionist history? The Civil War? The Underground Railroad? Passing? Court trials? Senator Sumner? Frederick Douglass? John Brown? Obscure photographers & their studios? Massachusetts? I hope you get my point here.... I thought this was going to be a book about a little girl & how she was used/exploited by abolitionists to bring people to their cause. The actual story about Mary is scant, at best. The book goes off on so many tangents, you keep reading to see if it gets any better. Sadly, it does not. (Case in point, when Ms Morgan-Owens finally gets around to what became of Mary's family, I had completely forgotten who these people were & kept asking myself, why should I care if some old lady had her portrait painted while laying in her coffin? It wasn't until half way through that chapter that I realized she was talking about Mary's grandmother, Pru.) While Mary's story is interesting, it is not one that should be the subject matter for an entire book. At least this is not the book to tell it. This book feels more like Ms Morgan-Owens reached into a bag of topics/people, grabbed one, and proceeded to write about it. And while I feel bad about leaving such an unfavorable review, because there is an obvious amount of work & research that has been done here, I still don't know why I continued to read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joe Keefhaver

    This is yet another look at the many-faceted story of American slavery and the abolition movement. A young slave girl, who is by all appearances white, is used by abolitionists in the 1850's to emphasize the evils of slavery. Abolitionist leaders, such as Sen. Charles Sumner, rightly know that Northern white audiences will be more sympathetic to the cause if they see people who look "just like them" can be held in slavery. The negative aspect to this thinking is that a little black girl is no mo This is yet another look at the many-faceted story of American slavery and the abolition movement. A young slave girl, who is by all appearances white, is used by abolitionists in the 1850's to emphasize the evils of slavery. Abolitionist leaders, such as Sen. Charles Sumner, rightly know that Northern white audiences will be more sympathetic to the cause if they see people who look "just like them" can be held in slavery. The negative aspect to this thinking is that a little black girl is no more deserving of being a slave, but there is more outrage at the thought of a white slave. There is a general failure on the part of society in that day to dwell on the subject of how descendants of black slaves turned up looking white. The author makes clear that a component of American slavery had to do with sexual slavery -- human trafficking, as we would call it today. The book elaborates on the dangers facing free blacks and blacks who are "passing" for white. It also makes clear the all-consuming nature of the national debate about slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. Recounted is the anger over implementation of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, as well as the vicious beating of Sen. Sumner in the Senate chamber by a pro-slavery Congressman.

  4. 4 out of 5

    L

    Well written and an important contribution to the history of abolition in this country. Surprising that a book, “Ida May,” by Mary Hayden Green Pike of Calais, Maine figured so prominently in this book and in the anti-slavery movement. There was one mistake — the author cited the Chicago Institute of Art. It’s the Art Institute of Chicago.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Mary’s story is an interesting one that I’d never heard, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to carry a whole book. The beginning read like a family tree with too many branches, the end like a brief history of abolition and the start of the Civil War.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a very fast read. I loved how she took a single photograph and found the history surrounding it. This book did great job in intertwining the narrative of photography and history, two of my favorite things.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    I definitely recommend this fascinating book to anyone interested in U.S. History, race relations, passing, slavery, and the Civil War era. This is an extremely well researched book. The author’s acknowledgements reveal the people color who helped her understand how to write this story of a family that she could never fully understand. It’s a must read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    M.

    It was a good read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Thomas

    Mary Mildred Williams was a slave girl whose skin, because of generations of sexual violence, was light enough to allow her to pass for white. Because of this she became the poster-child for the abolitionist movement when in 1855 Senator Charles Sumner took the 7-year old Mary with him on his abolitionist lecture tour. Unfortunately the title of the book is misleading because it really is not the story of Mary, of whom very little more is known than stated above. It’s more a history of her parent Mary Mildred Williams was a slave girl whose skin, because of generations of sexual violence, was light enough to allow her to pass for white. Because of this she became the poster-child for the abolitionist movement when in 1855 Senator Charles Sumner took the 7-year old Mary with him on his abolitionist lecture tour. Unfortunately the title of the book is misleading because it really is not the story of Mary, of whom very little more is known than stated above. It’s more a history of her parents and grandparents, the growth of the abolition movement, the process of manumission and the role of photography . The facts relating to Mary herself could have been collected into one brief chapter and by the end of the book I felt I knew a lot more about Senator Sumner than Mary Mildred. I’m sorry to be negative when obviously so much research went into this project but I borrowed the book in the expectation of reading one thing, only to find out it was something else.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I received a free arc of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. Girl in Black and White is the historical account of Mary Mildred Williams and those around her who used her as a prop to advance the abolition movement. Jessie Morgan-Owens does a great job at presenting a vast amount of obviously very well researched information without it feeling dry or tedious to read. I appreciated the acknowledgment that those that turned Mary into a poster child for slavery did so because white men have tr I received a free arc of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. Girl in Black and White is the historical account of Mary Mildred Williams and those around her who used her as a prop to advance the abolition movement. Jessie Morgan-Owens does a great job at presenting a vast amount of obviously very well researched information without it feeling dry or tedious to read. I appreciated the acknowledgment that those that turned Mary into a poster child for slavery did so because white men have trouble fully acknowledging the humanity of others different from them and in doing so they also ended up perpetuating the racial hierarchy that made this iteration of slavery possible. Overall this is a very interesting book that covers the abolition movement, history of photography, civil war era and genealogy of Mary Mildred Williams and her family.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Natacha Pavlov

    *I won a copy of this book through Goodreads giveaways.* This deeply researched work tells of the little-known story of Mary Mildred Williams―a slave girl who looked “white”―whose photograph transformed the abolitionist movement. Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter, some aspects were disturbing, like some needing to connect slavery to a white child in order to realize its inherent wrong. (Popular abolitionist novels of the time also played a part in this, among them the now lesser known ti *I won a copy of this book through Goodreads giveaways.* This deeply researched work tells of the little-known story of Mary Mildred Williams―a slave girl who looked “white”―whose photograph transformed the abolitionist movement. Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter, some aspects were disturbing, like some needing to connect slavery to a white child in order to realize its inherent wrong. (Popular abolitionist novels of the time also played a part in this, among them the now lesser known title 'Ida May'). A commendable effort by the author to share this untold story.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Oh, I remember hearing about this girl and the controversy around her years ago. It was an fascinating and intriguing story. Anyone who enjoys these anecdotes in history will love this book. Very informative. I received a Kindle arc from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    Solid historical writing.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Blue Cypress Books

    Such an excellent work of history!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Wood

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Hardwick

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lynn

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Louisa

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jack Young

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kara Roberts

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  27. 5 out of 5

    James Owens

  28. 5 out of 5

    Arghred

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

  30. 5 out of 5

    Leslie K

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