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The Bone and Sinew of the Land  - Anna-Lisa Cox - <span class="date-display-single">09/26/2019 - 5:30pm</span>

The Bone and Sinew of the Land

09/26/2019 - 5:30pm

- Conrad A. Elvehjem Building L140

Presented in partnership with the UW Center for the Humanities, Ana-LIsa Cox presents the long-hidden stories of America’s black pioneers, the frontier they settled, and their fight for the heart of the nation. When black settlers Keziah and Charles Grier started clearing their frontier land in 1818, they couldn’t know that they were part of the nation’s earliest struggle for equality; they were just looking to build a better life. But within a few years, the Griers would become early Underground Railroad conductors, joining with fellow pioneers and other allies to confront the growing tyranny of bondage and injustice.


The Bone and Sinew of the Land tells the Griers’ story and the stories of many others like them: the lost history of the nation’s first Great Migration. In building hundreds of settlements on the frontier, these black pioneers were making a stand for equality and freedom. Their new home, the Northwest Territory–the wild region that would become present-day Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin–was the first territory to ban slavery and have equal voting rights for all men. Though forgotten today, in their own time the successes of these pioneers made them the targets of racist backlash. Political and even armed battles soon ensued, tearing apart families and communities long before the Civil War. This groundbreaking work of research reveals America’s forgotten frontier, where these settlers were inspired by the belief that all men are created equal and a brighter future was possible.



Anna-Lisa Cox

About Presenter Anna-Lisa Cox


Anna-Lisa Cox is an award-winning historian of race relations in nineteenth-century America. She is a fellow at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, and a recent Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, where her original research underpinned two exhibits. Cox’s first book, A Stronger Kinship, was awarded the Michigan Notable Book Award and her most recent book, “The Bone and Sinew of the Land”: America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and The Struggle for Equality was honored by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the eight best history books of 2018. Booklist praised it for providing “a moving and necessary corrective to pioneer history” while Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. described it as “a revelation of primary historical research that is written with the beauty and empathic powers of a novel."


The Bone and Sinew of the Land

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