Rethinking gender, slavery and the Constitution

Through her scholarly work on 19th-century African American history, U.S. slavery and women’s and gender history, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, an assistant professor of history, is working to reshape our understanding of the past and its meaning for the present. She shared her research findings — based on ex-slave testimonials, legal and military documents, financial records, travel writing, newspapers, slave traders’ papers and other sources — in two recent appearances.

In a campus Constitution Day talk, Sept. 17 at the Free Speech Movement Cafe, Jones-Rogers discussed two clauses of the U.S. Constitution — the fugitive-slave clause and the clause abolishing the African slave trade — and how they made it possible for some black women to circumvent economic and legal disabilities that accompanied the denial of their full citizenship. (Text continues below video of her talk.)

Jones-Rogers focused on another topic — white women’s active role in the buying and selling of enslaved blacks — in a recent radio interview. Appearing on the KPFA program “Against the Grain,” she also discussed slave owners’ power, under federal and state laws, to capture runaway slaves in so-called free states. Listen to or download that audio interview here.

Her perspective on issues in the news, including the Charleston church massacre, may be found on the Berkeley Blog.