“The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality”, tells the long-hidden stories of America’s black pioneers, the frontier they settled, and their fight for the heart of the nation. It courageously unveils the lost history of the nation’s first Great Migration. In building hundreds of settlements on the frontier, these black pioneers were making a stand for equality and freedom.
Dr. Anna-Lisa Cox is an award-winning historian of race relations in the 19th century Midwest and is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. She recently helped create two historical exhibits based on her original research at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, including one on African American pioneers.
Check out the Dr. Anna-Lisa Cox’s website!
Click link to purchase his book, “The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality”.
Here is a chronological list of the songs played on the episode. Click to purchase, below.
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Below, is a far from complete list of historic sites home to African American pioneering farmers before the Civil War. Go and explore!
Lyles station, Indiana: A wonderful little museum about the African American pioneers and farmers that have farmed the land they owned in Gibson County for over 200 years.
Union Literary Institute, integrated pre-collegiate boarding school founded in Indiana in 1845:
Right across the Indiana border, in Darke County, Ohio (but part of the same historic community):
Clemens Home, a mansion belonging to the Clemens family, who were wealthy African American farmers who settled in the region in the early 1820s. Near Greenville, Ohio.
(And an exhibit about the Union Literary Institute school and the farming community in Darke County can be found at the Garst Museum, in Greenville, OH:
John Langston, the first African American to elected to political office in the United States, while he lived on his farm in Brownhelm Township, Ohio. Near Oberlin, Ohio.
Lawrence County, Illinois, home to a very early settlement of free African Americans, some of whom fought in the War of 1812 along the Wabash River.
The Lawrence County Historical society has done an excellent job of tracing their history and historic sites in the county.
Indiana African American History Trail:
Marker for Bishop Quinn, who founded over forty AME churches on the Northwest Territorial frontier. In Richmond, Indiana:
Wisconsin Driftless region: Near Viroqua WI. The early African American pioneer communities of Barton Corners and Cheyenne Valley Wisconsin:
The Salt springs (Cornelius Elliott in Gallatin County, Illinois):
The Polly Strong case that overturned slavery in Indiana, Corydon, Indiana:
New Philadelphia, Illinois, first town platted by an African American in Illinois.
Carthagena, Ohio, a town platted and founded in the midst of an older African American farming settlement by an African American freedom entrepreneur in the early 1840s:
Roberts settlements, central Indiana:
Cass County, Michigan. Home to the largest African American rural population in the Northwest Territory states before the Civil War. African American activists from this county pushed for equal voting rights, and won them for school-board elections across the state in the 1850s in Michigan.
Woodstock Manual Labor Institute, Prior Foster. Lenawee County, MI
Oshtemo, Michigan, home to Enoch and Deborah Harris, who settled in Michigan before statehood on over 400 acres of land. They had known John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) as pioneers in Ohio before coming to Michigan, and the Harrises planted one of the first apple orchards in that region of Michigan.
Finally, on the East Coast, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, has an exhibit she helped to create on Lyles Station and African American pioneers to the Northwest territory states, on the third floor in the “Power of Place” exhibit.