Event Notices

Kellie Carter Jackson – Forcing Freedom | Speaker Series Event

Forcing Freedom: Understanding Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence

September 18th,  6:30-8:30pm
Old North Church, 193 Salem Street Boston, MA 02113
Speaker: Kellie Carter Jackson
Presented in partnership with National Parks of Boston

Her book Force & Freedom examines one of the perennial questions in political thought: is violence a valid means of producing social change? In her lecture, Kellie Carter Jackson address how black abolitionists answered this question. Black resistance, and in particular, violent resistance to slavery, was central to emancipation. The phrase “freedom now” was never more urgent than in the decades leading up to the Civil War. Carter Jackson takes us beyond the honorable politics of moral suasion and the romanticism of the Underground Railroad and into an exploration of the agonizing decisions, strategies, and actions of the black abolitionists who, though lacking an official political voice, were nevertheless responsible for instigating monumental social and political change.

Afterwards, join us for a reception and Community Conversation with the speaker and National Park Rangers Ryan McNabb and Elisabeth Colby for an intimate discussion of the parallels between the methods of bringing about social and political change in the 19th and 21st centuries.


Kellie Carter Jackson is a 19th century historian in the Department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College. She earned her BA from Howard University and her PhD from Columbia University. Her book, Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence (University of Pennsylvania Press) provides the first historical analysis exclusively focused on the tactical use of violence among antebellum black activists. Carter Jackson is also co-editor of Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, & Memory (Athens: University of Georgia Press). Together, Ball and Carter Jackson have curated the largest collection of essays dedicated to the history and impact of Alex Haley’s Roots. Carter Jackson was also featured in the History Channel’s documentary, Roots: A History Revealed which was nominated for a NAACP Image Award in 2016. Follow her on twitter @kcarterjackson.