The great migrations of the nineteenth century that brought nearly a half million people westward via a complex of overland trails mark a tumultuous era in American history. Traditional narratives of western migration have tended to homogenize the people who traveled the trails. In reality, however, a diversity of peoples trekked the overland routes to the West including African Americans from all walks of life. Black men, women, and children — enslaved and free, civilians and soldiers — were active participants in the transformative events of western migration. Their reasons for undertaking the journey and their experiences on and off the trails have been largely ignored or minimized.
Join as author and CSU Sacramento professor emerita of history Dr. Shirley Ann Wilson Moore draws on official records, oral histories, diaries, images, songs, and other sources, offering insight into this fascinating but little-known story. Her award-winning book, Sweet Freedom’s Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails, 1841-1869 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016) meticulously details the experiences of black overlanders and places them where they belong — at the center of the western migration narrative.
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