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Radical Friends: Amy Post and Frederick Douglass

The fugitive slave Frederick Douglass and the radical Quaker Amy Post forged a close friendship in the 1840s, joining forces to challenge racial and gender injustice. Such interracial friendships were rare in the nineteenth century, and even more so between men and women. Over the next four decades, their bond would be tested by ideological, religious, and political differences as struggles over abolition, racial equality, women’s rights, and civil war raged across the country. Tensions also arose from more personal matters, including Douglass’s deteriorating relationship with free black Bostonian and Post confidante William Nell and his growing friendship with British abolitionist Julia Griffiths as well as Post’s embrace of spiritualism and her opposition to the use of force. Despite such challenges and two brief periods of estrangement, the two remained friends until Amy’s death in 1889. In this talk, Nancy Hewitt will explore the complex relationship between these two activists and what it can tell us about the power of friendship in pursuit of radical change.

Nancy A. Hewitt was raised in Spencerport, New York, and received her B.A. in History and Women’s Studies from SUNY Brockport in 1974. Active in the antiwar and feminist movements, she completed a dissertation on nineteenth-century women’s activism in Rochester and, in 1981, received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. While working on her dissertation, which she published as Women’s Activism and Social Change: Rochester, New York, 1822-1872 (Cornell University Press, 1984), Hewitt became fascinated with Amy and Isaac Post, whose family papers had been donated to the University of Rochester in 1978. After teaching at the University of South Florida and Duke University, where she studied southern women’s activism, she moved to Rutgers University (New Jersey) in 1998. She then returned to the Post Family Papers and began work on Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds, which was published this year by the University of North Carolina Press. She is now retired and living in St. Petersburg, Florida, but is working on the third edition of an American History survey text—Exploring American Histories—coauthored with her husband Steven Lawson, a civil rights historian.

Date:
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Time:
1:00pm - 2:30pm
Location:
Central - Rundel Auditorium
Campus:
Central Library
Audience:
  Adults  
Categories:
  Department - Local History & Genealogy  

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