Following the lead of her own ancestors, Kendra Field's epic family history chronicles the westward migration of freedom's first generation in the fifty years after emancipation. Drawing on decades of archival research and family lore within and beyond the United States, Field traces their journey out of the South to Indian Territory, where they participated in the development of black and black Indian towns and settlements.
When statehood, oil speculation, and Jim Crow segregation imperiled their lives and livelihoods, these formerly enslaved men and women again chose emigration. Some migrants launched a powerful back-to-Africa movement, while others moved on to Canada and Mexico. Their lives and choices deepen and widen the roots of the Great Migration. Interweaving black, white, and Indian histories, Field's beautifully wrought narrative explores how ideas about race and color powerfully shaped the pursuit of freedom.
Kendra Taira Field is assistant professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University.