Lois Leveen

Blog

February 6, 2012

Did African Americans Own Slaves?

99 Days to Publication, so here's today's entry in the 100 Fascinating Facts Countdown:

Did African Americans own slaves? It's a good question for black history month, and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

The short--and surprising--answer is yes. But as they like to say on Facebook, "It's complicated." Or at least more complicated than a simple yes suggests.

For one thing, the vast majority of slaveowners in the U.S. were white. And even most whites didn't own slaves. So it's important not to overplay the idea of black slaveholding. But in Virginia, where my novel is set, there were blacks who owned slaves. And although they were only a small fraction of all slaveholders, today's fascinating fact is about understanding why blacks owned slaves at all.


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