The Meanings of Freedom: Black Lives During Reconstruction

Louis Masur
Louis Masur
Rutgers University

Louis Masur is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. A cultural historian who has written on a variety of topics, his most recent work is The Sum of Our Dreams: A Concise History of America (2020). A specialist on Lincoln and the Civil War, he is the author of Lincoln’s Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction & The Crisis of Reunion (2015), Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union (2012), and The Civil War: A Concise History (2011). Masur’s essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the Washington PostSlate, and on CNN. He has been elected to membership of the American Antiquarian Society, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and the Society of American Historians and has received teaching awards from Harvard University, the City College of New York, Trinity College and Rutgers University. His website is www.louismasur.com.

 

Overview

In the aftermath of the Civil War, four million enslaved persons received freedom. Juneteenth celebrates the moment of freedom for many of them, but the experience of freedom varied widely. In this lecture, we shall discuss how African-Americans made a new life and fought to overcome obstacles that left some wondering if they had “nothing but freedom.”

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