Past Event

Sweet Taste of Liberty

September 23, 2021
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Online Event

Please join The Forum and the Lehman Center for American History, a collaboration between the Department of History and Columbia University Libraries, on Thursday, September 23 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. for an important discussion, deferred from last academic year, of the 2020 History Pulitzer Prize winning book, Sweet Taste of Liberty. The panel will feature the book’s author, Prof. Caleb McDaniel of Rice University; the panel will be hosted and moderated by Columbia University History Professor and Lehman Center Co-Director Stephanie McCurry, and will include Columbia graduate Jordan Brewington as Interlocutor. A Q&A session will follow the discussion. Viewers may submit questions for the speakers via Slido

Sweet Taste of Liberty investigates the life of Henrietta Wood, an enslaved woman freed in 1848 but violently abducted back into slavery in 1853. Her experiences of losing the sweet taste of liberty – but fighting to regain it in 1870 and ultimately hold her kidnapper legally responsible for restitution – are an important and inspiring story for us in 2021.

As Prof. McDaniel shares with us in this remarkable feat of research and writing: “Slavery concealed many of the things that historians most want to know about enslaved people: their experiences, their feelings, their family histories …. Nineteenth century records about black women in particular faced an uphill battle for survival in the archives. … the archive of slavery we have is itself an artifact of slaveholders’ power and violence in the past. … Denying a past to enslaved people was not incidental to slavery, but essential to the whole system of dispossession and domination.”

Sweet Taste of Liberty is available for purchase here

This special event is co-sponsored by The Lehman Center for American History, a collaboration between the Department of History and Columbia University Libraries, and The Forum.

Columbia University makes every effort to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Please notify the office at least 10 days in advance if you require closed captioning, sign-language interpretation or any other disability accommodations. Alternatively, Disability Services can be reached at 212.854.2388 and [email protected].

About the Panelists

W. Caleb McDaniel
Mary Gibbs Jones Professor of Humanities
Department Chair and Professor of History
Rice University

Caleb McDaniel specializes in nineteenth-century U.S. history, slavery and emancipation, and the American Civil War era. He serves as the Co-Chair for Rice University’s Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice. His latest book, Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America, was published in 2019 by Oxford University Press and was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for History and the Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians. In addition to scholarly publications, he has written essays that have appeared in the New York TimesSmithsonianThe Atlantic, and TIME.

Portrait of W. Caleb McDaniel

Jordan Brewington
Columbia College '17, Yale Law School '21
Reparative Justice Legal Fellow, 2021-2022 Justice Catalyst Fellow

Jordan Brewington researches, writes, and facilitates collective visioning around land-based and local reparations initiatives. She’s working with descendant communities in southeastern Louisiana to advocate for reparative justice and healing from the legacies of slavery. Jordan also writes about the intersection of property law and reparative justice theory. Her work Dismantling the Master’s House: Reparations on the American Plantation explores the use of eminent domain to redistribute plantation landholdings in southeastern Louisiana for descendants of the enslaved. Jordan was an active participant in the Columbia University and Slavery seminar, where she traced runaway slave advertisements placed by Columbia students, faculty, and affiliates between 1760 and 1805.

Portrait of Jordan Brewington

Stephanie McCurry
R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History
in Honor of Dwight D. Eisenhower
Columbia University

Stephanie McCurry is Co-Director of the Lehman Program for American History, a collaboration between the Department of History and Columbia Libraries. She specializes in the American Civil War and Reconstruction, the nineteenth century United States, the American South, and the history of women and gender. She teaches in the Columbia University and Slavery seminar offered to undergraduates. Her current work focuses on the epic human drama of Reconstruction in the U.S. and the comparative history of postwar societies and processes of reconstruction in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her book Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South won the Frederick Douglass Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Portrait of Stephanie McCurry