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From Cameron Plantation to Cameron Place: The Making of a Black Homeland in Alabama
February 22 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pmFree
Talk by Duke Emeritus Professor Syd Nathans
In his book A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland, Duke Emeritus Professor Syd Nathans tells a rare story—that of people sent in 1844 by planter Paul Cameron to labor on an Alabama cotton plantation, who became owners of the very land they worked in bondage, and whose descendants have held on to it since.
Using thousands of Cameron letters at the UNC Library’s Southern Historical Collection, and years of interviews with black descendants, Nathans traces the destiny of families rooted on the former plantation who viewed the planter as the man who homesteaded their forebears—selling to “all black and no white”—and who call their land “Cameron Place.” Through their story, he illuminates the meaning of land and landowning—first to the planter who bought the land in 1844, then to emancipated African Americans who chose to stay rather than leave, and finally to the generation that fought to make their homeland fully free.