Book details

The Bone and Sinew of the Land

America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality

By Anna-Lisa Cox

About the Book

The story of America's forgotten black pioneers, who escaped slavery, settled the frontier, and proved that racial equality was possible even as the country headed toward civil war.

The American frontier is one of our most cherished and enduring national images. We think of the early settlers who tamed the wilderness and built the bones of our great country as courageous, independent--and white.

In this groundbreaking work of deep historical research, Anna-Lisa Cox shows that this history simply isn't accurate. In fact, she has found a stunning number of black settlements on the frontier--in the thousands. Though forgotten today, these homesteads were a matter of national importance at the time; their mere existence challenged rationalizations for slavery and pushed the question toward a crisis--one that was not resolved until the eruption of the Civil War.

Blending meticulous detail with lively storytelling, Cox brings historical recognition to the brave people who managed not just to secure their freedom but begin a battle that is still going on today--a battle for equality.

About the Author

Anna-Lisa Cox is an independent historian, a fellow at Harvard University's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, and a research associate at the Smithsonian. She has won numerous awards for her research, and her work on the subject of this book is featured in the "Power of Place" exhibit at the National Museum of African American History. She is the author of A Stronger Kinship: One Town's Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith. She lives in Michigan.