In most history classes, students learn that the Emancipation Proclamation and Union victories “freed the slaves.” But ending slavery in America required much more than battlefield victories and official declarations. Black people battled for their own freedom, taking incredible risks for a country that had actively denied their right to it. And after the Civil War, they made freedom real by organizing for equality and justice.
On Seizing Freedom, you’ll hear stories of freedom taking and freedom making, in the words of those who did both. Drawing on stories from diaries, newspapers, letters, and speeches, we’ll recreate voices that have been muted time and time again.
This excerpt is from the first episode of the series. It tells the story of those who escaped slavery to enlist with the Union Army—an army that wasn’t particularly interested in having them.