University’s Black Abolitionist Archives will officially be
on the map as a national historic resource now that President George
W. Bush has selected the archive project “Black Antislavery
Writings 1760-1829” to be funded by his “We
the People” history initiative.
In September 2002, President Bush announced a new National Endowment
for the Humanities (NEH) initiative called We the People, which
included a call for grant applications to explore significant events
and themes in the nation’s history. The president has requested
$100 million from Congress over the next three years, beginning
with a first installment of $25 million in 2004 to support this
Professor of History and Black Abolitionist Archive Director Roy
Finkenbine received word last June from NEH Chairman Bruce Cole
that his project was selected as one of 41 projects to be funded.
“Being selected as a We the People project is a thrilling
confirmation of our view that recovering and publishing black-authored
texts from this period (many of which have been lost, overlooked
or viewed as unimportant) is an essential part of accurately portraying
the story of the American Revolution and New Nation,” says
The project involves identifying, collecting, and publishing -
both in selective print edition and comprehensive online edition
- writings by African Americans (slave and free) between 1760 and
1829. The topics of the writings include slavery, race, and related
topics (e.g., emancipation, race theory, identity, colonization).
“We expect that having these sources accessible and in one
place will dramatically expand and revise scholarly and popular
understanding of the role African Americans played in the American
Revolution and the New Nation,” Finkenbine explains.
Finkenbine says a most interesting discovery of his research are
legislative petitions authored by ordinary blacks and groups of
blacks to state legislatures and Congress.
“They are quite informative as to what African Americans
hoped for and worked for as the 'fruits' of the American Revolution
- a nation where the equality promised in the Declaration of Independence
was truly recognized.”
Though this project is funded by NEH, continued funding requires
that matching funds are generated from external sources. If you
are interested in supporting this important initiative, contact
Roy Finkenbine at (313) 993-1016 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.